Azulejos, colored tiles, adorn buildings, palaces, churches and homes throughout Portugal. An influence from when the Moors ruled Spain for five centuries and was introduced to Portugal by Spain. Azulejo comes from the Arabic word zellige meaning polished stone.
During the 15th and 16th century, Azulejos were common in all architecture and in 1415, when Portugal gained control of Ceuta, a city in Morocco,Portuguese learned the techniques of making the tiles but continued to import azulejos until the late 16th century mostly from Spain as well as Italy and Belgium. It was during this time that many potters from these countries came to Portugal to set up workshops to create tiles and perfect their technique. Over the next several centuries, the art form would ebb and flow, with new techniques to create azulejos and influences from Renaissance art.
Portuguese were influenced by the Moorish style of always covering bare walls out of the tradition of “horror vacui” or the fear of empty spaces and homes are often covered in tiles both inside the home and outside. Beautiful and decorative, they also serve as a way to moderate the temperature throughout the seasons, cooling the inside of a home or building in the summer and maintaining warmth in the winter.
It’s easy to spot Moorish style- abstract and floral designs as the Muslim religion doesn’t allow the depiction of people or animals in paintings or art. Portuguese have infused their own style in the azulejos by creating tiled mosaics of a historical event, people and sometimes food.
Today, azulejos definitely add color and vibrance to the cities of Portugal, especially to Lisboa (Lisbon) and Porto (Oporto).
For more information about Azulejos in Portugal, Visit wikipedia