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Discover Portugal. Traditional Portuguese tiles

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Discover Portugal. Traditional Portuguese tiles

The ceramic Portuguese tiles are one of the most famous symbols of Portugal. They come in every colour, size and design, covering most of the historic buildings in Lisbon. What is the story behind them? Why they became a big part of the Portuguese identity? and how you can get a chance to make your own Portuguese tiles?

The Portuguese tiles, also known as azulejos (a small polished stone in Arabic) have a wide history and were even used in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Their use expanded with the geographical spread of Islam and thus made their way to the Iberian Peninsula. Those were the ones who introduced the style to Europe, with their invasion at the beginning of the 8th century. Muslim designers began using tile art mainly in Spain. In 1498 King Don Manuel I visited Sevilla and fell in love with the tiles. In fact, he liked them that much, that he decided to import the tiles to his palace in Sintra. Between the 15th and 16th centuries, many tiles in the style of the Heispanu Moorish were imported to Portugal. It was only at the end of the 16th century that Portugal stopped importing tiles and began to manufacture by itself.

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With the arrival of the tiles to Portugal, their design began to be influenced by the Gothic style and local designers which created a unique Portuguese tiles style. 

After the earthquake of 1755, during which 80% of the buildings of Lisbon collapsed, Marques de Pombal was appointed prime minister. Marques de Pombal was an economic genius who subscribed to the reconstruction of the city. He was the one who decided to cover the building of Lisbon’s with tiles. Marques realized that those tiles, are not only beautiful, but also useful as they can be used as a temperature regulator, keeping the house cool during summer and warm during the winter.

Over the years, the tiles have undergone many changes depending on the period in which they were made.

Over the years, the tiles have undergone many changes depending on the period in which they were made.

To learn more about the Portuguese and Lisbon tiles, you can visit the National Tile Museum (azulejos museum) which presents a journey through the history of tile, from 15th century till present days.

Ana, one of our most loved educators, opens the door to her ceramics studio in Lisbon for us to make a traditional Portuguese tiles of our own. During the 2-hour tile painting workshop you get to choose one of the traditional designs, or make one of your own! Our educator Ana guides you through the process from step one, giving a brief introduction on history and techniques of traditional tile painting.

What a fun class! Love the selection of patterns. If you are not able to pick up your finished tile, they can ship it and shipping was very reasonable. The atmosphere was very pleasant. It was actually very therapeutic to paint the tiles. If I lived in Lisbon, I would come to this studio and paint tiles regularly.

– zpolishook

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Join us and experience the wonderful tile painting workshop in Lisbon! Enrich your life. Learn from locals. Feel at home.

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