portugal tiles

Portugal ceramic tiles are an important part of Portuguese culture. Here in Portugal, you can find them in different forms. The tiles are made of ceramic, and they are glazed at the end of their production. In this way, they can endure the change of weather and corrosion.

What is more, you can find many buildings that are decorated with Portugal mosaic tiles here. Among these buildings, some have a very long history, like centuries! There are various houses, monasteries, and churches decorated with these tiles in Portugal. Furthermore, you can even visit a museum dedicated to the tiles: The National Tile Museum. Known as Museu dos Azulejos, the museum is located in Lisbon.

Let’s get to know more about these cultural products in more detail. You can find the history and design of these tiles below. 

Portugal Tiles History 

Portugal met tiles in the 13th century when the Arabs brought them to Portugal. However, the original place of these tiles was Egypt. After King D. Manuel I visited Spain, these tiles were started to be brought to and adopted in Portugal. The King was quite fascinated by these pieces and brought some with him back to Portugal. It’s said that he decorated the walls of his palace with these Portugal wall tiles. 

Tiles in Portuguese are called “Azulejos”, which have an Arabic origin. In Arabic, it means “polished stone”. The production process includes cutting these tiles into geometric shapes. Then, they are painted.

You can see many Portuguese blue tiles here. The reason for the blue color is that they were popular between the 15th and 18th centuries, which is the period of the Age of Discoveries. Furthermore, blue was regarded to symbolize wealth and power. This is another reason for the color’s popularity among the decorations of many monuments. The Portuguese started to produce the tiles in blue and white colors after seeing them manufactured by the Dutch. The Dutch started to copy the style of Chinese porcelain in the 17th century. Then, the Portuguese saw that and started to produce their own tiles in bigger amounts.

The first factory to build tiles dates back to the 18th century. It was built in Lisbon, and manufacturers are still paying special attention to the traditional method of making them.

Portuguese Tile Art: How To Make Tiles

Portugal tiles manufacturers make them in an oven, and then, they glaze the outside part for the artists to paint them. Glazing is also important for the tiles to endure the weather and other conditions. As noted above, they are first cut, and then they are painted. 

Mostly, you can find traditional Portuguese tiles in the shape of a square, and they are thin. The fact that they’re produced thin enables the walls to be easily decorated with such tiles. 

The decoration of tiles also tells a story behind them. For example, on church tiles, you can see figures and stories of saints on the tiles. Back then, priests ordered the tiles like these for the walls of their chapel. Some tiles also tell stories about the voyages that navigators did. In this way, a large number of masses were able to know about the Bible or voyages. Not everyone could easily have access to books back then.

The style of the Portugal tiles is influenced by the cultures of Italy and Islam as well. The influence of the Arab cultures is also evident in the motifs of flowers and geometric style. 

Where To Use Blue Tiles Portugal

To look back at its history, only rich people and families could buy Portugal tiles. Also, they only used the tiles inside the buildings and their houses. After a certain period of time, they were begun to be used on the outside of buildings. 

The use of Azulejo tiles Portugal became so popular that you can see them anywhere in Portugal today. You can also see variety in their decoration because each artist or architect decorates the buildings according to a certain style. Furthermore, you become astounded by seeing how detailed these tiles sometimes can be. There’s real work under them. The inside of the buildings and houses like ceilings can be decorated with tiles as well. You can see many public places decorated with these tiles in Portugal.

Where To See The Traditional Portuguese Tiles

  • In Porto, you can definitely go to Porto’s cathedral from the 18th century. You can find great tiles inside the cathedral. Another place to see these Portugal tiles would be São Bento Railway Station which was built in 1903. The place incorporates more than 20,000 tiles. These tiles depict certain events from Portugal’s history as well.
  • There’s also The Church of Saint Ildefonso which was built in 1739. The tiles, however, were added after years, in 1932 by the artist Jorge Colaço. If you wonder about the number of tiles, well, there are more than 11,000 blue and white tiles. These tiles cover the outside of the church. Casa da Musica and Ribeira Negra panel are other places to see such tiles in Porto.
  • In Lisbon, these tiles color the streets and corners. The Fronteira Palace is one of the places to see Lisbon tiles. It’s a palace dating from the 17th century. You can find these tiles in the main garden as well as on the walls. Another alternative is visiting the National Azulejo Museum. In this place, you can also know about the production process of tiles. The streets of Bairro Alto also offer poetry in motion with various colors. 
  • In Aveiro, you can go to the old train station. The tiles there tell you the stories of workers and local activities. There are also Art Nouveau and Misericórdia Church to enjoy some examples of tiles.
  • In Carcavelos on the Estoril Coast, there’s a factory for making tiles. It’s called The Cerâmica Artistica de Carcavelos. It also offers a store for visitors to go to. This place also conducts works such as the restoration of tiles in churches or in other buildings. You can also go to the Parish Church of Carcavelos. The 17th-century Spanish painter Gabriel del Barco created these pieces. The tiles here depict several religious concepts. For instance, you can see depictions of the Passion of Christ or St. Anthony’s sermon. 
  • Sintra is another place to enjoy the experience of seeing beautiful Portugal tiles. Here, you can go to the National Palace of Sintra. The palace maintains influences from Islam and the Gothic-Renaissance. The rooms inside are decorated with blue and white tiles. You can also see the tiles covering the outside of houses in the city.

Frequently Asked Questions About Portugal Tiles

How much are the Portuguese bathroom tiles?

The prices of hand-painted tiles Portugal vary depending on some factors. These are, for example, the place you buy from, and the aim for using these tiles. Also, the prices depend on the artist who made them as well. 

For small ones, one tile may cost €5-€10 at souvenir stores. The cost of antique Lisbon tiles may start from €20. If you plan to decorate bigger areas like a wall, you’ll pay much more. 

Where to buy Portugal mosaic tiles?

You can find many stores to buy Portuguese bathroom tiles. Some of them have websites as well. Manuel Marques Antunes is one of such online stores. In Porto, you can buy them at stores like Prometeu Artesanato, Brâmica, or Zinda Atelier. 

In Lisbon, you can buy tiles from stores like Santa Rufina, Cortiço & Netos, and Solar Antiques.

In short, Portugal tiles are a very important element of Portuguese culture. For this reason, you can see them anywhere in the country like in restaurants and train stations. Today, inside areas of houses are decorated with tiles as well. People also combine the traditional style of tiles with modern touches as well.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here