The country of Portugal is one of the premier nations of the continent of Europe and it boats of a rich cultural history and heritage. This is primarily because Portuguese territory had been subjected to subjugation and rule by various civilizations since ancient times and this along with the cultural influence from the neighboring countries have enabled the growth of a cosmopolitan and enriched culture. Portuguese tiles are one of the best architectural features that can be observed in Portugal and from the churches and significant edifices to roadside pavements, all are decorated with exquisitely designed and ornate tiles. Portuguese tiles are popularly referred to as ‘azulejos’ all over the country and the term originated form the Arabic word ‘az-zulavi’ which meant a kind of refined stone. The initial influence was drawn in form the Moors and in the later era Spanish impact also suitably affected the designing of these tiles. The Spanish designs influenced the azulejos post the 15th century and the unique and exquisite blue and white tiles or azulejos that are identified with Portuguese tiles originated under the patronage of a Spaniard named Gabriel Del Barco.
In the following centuries, it can be noted that considerable influence of Italian artworks could be noted in the pattern of Portuguese tiles. In fact in the 16th century, the Italian technique of painting directly on the tiles was adopted by the Portuguese tile painters and it soon became extremely popular. The immense fame of thee beautiful and attractive Portuguese tiles or azulejos also increased the importance and stature of the tile painters who began to be treated at par with artists. Various different movements like neo-classicism and eclecticism also greatly influenced the design pattern of Portuguese tiles. After the earthquake of 1755, it was discovered that these azulejos could withstand extreme weather conditions and were water proof and as a result they began to be sued in the exteriors of buildings.
Origin of the Portuguese tiles
Portugal is located within the continent of Europe and it can be recognized as one of the most prominent and developing countries in that part of the world. It is interesting to note that Portugal boasts of a very rich history and since the ancient eras, the interaction with various civilizations resulted in the formation of a very enriched and diversified culture within Portugal. One of the prevalent examples of this cultural growth can be observed among the architecture of Portugal, especially in the Portuguese tiles.