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Portuguese tiles, known as azulejos, are different and wonderful

Portuguese tiles, also known as azulejos, are very different from tiles made in Spain or Morocco in terms of their design, history, and production techniques.



Portuguese tiles are often characterized by their intricate and detailed blue and white or multi-colored patterns, which typically feature geometric or floral designs. Spanish tiles, on the other hand, often incorporate more vivid and bold colors, such as yellow, green, and red, and may feature patterns inspired by Islamic art. Moroccan tiles are known for their vibrant colors and often incorporate intricate geometric patterns and calligraphy.

History: The use of tiles in Portugal dates back to the 13th century when the Arabs introduced glazed ceramics to the country. Over time, Portuguese tile design became heavily influenced by the Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo styles. In Spain, the use of decorative tiles can be traced back to the 10th century when Islamic art and architecture flourished in the region. Moroccan tiles have a long history as well, with some of the oldest surviving examples dating back to the 13th century.

Production techniques:

Portuguese tiles are typically made using a tin-glazed ceramic technique known as majolica, which involves applying a white glaze to the tile and then painting the design on top. Spanish tiles are often made using a similar technique, but may also incorporate other methods such as cuerda seca, which involves using a wax resist to create raised lines between glazes. Moroccan tiles are often made using zellij, which involves cutting geometric shapes from clay tiles and fitting them together like a puzzle.

While all three styles of tiles share similarities in their use of glazes and patterns, Portuguese tiles are distinct in their intricate blue and white designs and use of the majolica technique, while Spanish and Moroccan tiles often incorporate different colors and patterns inspired by Islamic art.

The Museu Berardo Estremoz offer what is the largest and most important private collection of tiles in Portugal. It  includes rare tile panels, set at the Bacalhôa Palace and Estate (Azeitão) and the Tocha Palace (Estremoz), and more than four thousand and five hundred movable examples dating from the 13th to the 21st century. The collection follows the history of tiles, or 800 Years of Tile History." On display in the historic Tocha Palace, which already contains some magnificent late-Baroque and Rococo tile panels.


Évora in the Alentejo is famous for its beautiful tile work, known as azulejos.

Here are some of the places to see tiles in Évora:

  1. Church of São Francisco - This church features an impressive collection of tiles from the 18th century, depicting scenes from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. In the crypt is the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos) - This 16th-century chapel is decorated with human bones and skulls, but also features a beautiful display of blue and white tiles.
  2. Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval (Palácio dos Duques de Cadaval) - This 14th-century palace is now a museum, featuring a wide range of decorative arts, including a collection of beautiful azulejos.
  3. Church of Santo Antão (Igreja de Santo Antão) - This church is a great example of the use of tilework in Alentejo, with colorful and intricate designs covering the interior.
  4. Évora Museum (Museu de Évora) - This museum features a collection of tiles from various periods, including pieces from the 16th to the 19th century.
  5. Évora University - The university's main building, the Colégio do Espírito Santo, has a stunning façade decorated with blue and white tiles, depicting scenes from the history of the university and the city.

These are just a few of the best places to see tiles in Évora. As you explore the city, you're sure to come across many other beautiful examples of this traditional Portuguese art form.


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