Brightly-coloured decorative tiles have been used throughout Portugal since the birth of the nation, making up everything from immense religious scenes covering entire walls of churches to simple geometric patterns on the back of park benches. It was the Moors who introduced the craft in the eighth century – the word derives from the Arabic al-zulecha, meaning “small stone”. Less studied than stained glass, less famous than frescoes, many azulejos are handcrafted works of art, though even mass-produced factory items add flamboyance to otherwise dull buildings. You’ll find them all over the country – on churches, houses, cafés and shops, even motorway bridges and metro stations. The Museu Nacional do Azulejo in Lisbon is dedicated to them, or you can marvel at the ingenuity and adaptability of the art while catching the train at Pinhão station, spending the night in the Palácio do Buçaco or visiting the church of São Laurenço in the Algarve.

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An expert’s guide: the best places to stay in Porto

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