Lisbon's Azulejos

Lisbon, Portugal
38.722252400000, -9.139336600000
Journal Entry:

One thing that Lisbon is famous for is its tiles, or aluzejos. Azulejo comes from the Arabic word meaning “polished stone,” and refers to the tile artwork that seems to cover every inch of this city. Azulejo decorations and art pieces can be found in churches, palaces, cathedrals, monasteries, restaurants, schools, homes and even subway stations. These stunning pieces of ornamental art document Portugal’s history and culture. 

Azulejos date back to the 13th century and were heavily influenced by Muslim-controlled areas in Portugal and Spain. Seville, a Spanish city not far from Portugal, was said to be the birthplace of the style. In 1501, King Manuel I of Portugal brought back the techniques and ideas to make the tiles in Portugal. From then on, azulejos have taken over Portuguese architecture and art with a new style each century 

The Portuguese were also influenced by the Moorish tradition of horror vacui, or the fear of empty spaces. They wanted to cover any blank wall or ceiling with colorful scenes of mythology, history or religious figures. Oftentimes an, azulejo looks like a cartoon panel that tells the story of some famous person or event.