Azulejos are everywhere in Portugal. They decorate everything from walls of churches and monasteries, to palaces, ordinary houses, park seats, fountains, shops, and railway stations. They often portray scenes from the history of the country, ravishing sights, or simply serve as street signs, nameplates, or house numbers.
The first tiles used in Portugal came from the neighbouring Kingdom of Castile in Spain but influences from the Moors, Italians, and Dutch all contributed to the Portuguese tile work. The original motifs were mainly geometrical using blue, white, yellow, and greens.
In the seventeen century the Portuguese painters moved their art to tiles to create the Portuguese Azulejos (tiles). They are distinctively blue and white, graphical, and depict religious scenes, rural landscapes, and prominent local edifices and neighborhoods.
Today tile continues to cover the exterior walls of homes as it weathers the sea air, salt, and wind.
In Lisboa don’t miss the wonderful Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum).