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.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Portugal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
Where to eat in Lisbon: an area-by-area guide

Where to eat in Lisbon: an area-by-area guide

Lisbon has rightly garnered a reputation as being one of Europe’s hippest cities – but Portuguese cuisine remains somewhat unknown. Rest assured, though, Li…

24 Aug 2017 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
The 10 best beaches in Portugal

The 10 best beaches in Portugal

For many travellers, Portugal is synonymous with images of golden sun-baked beaches. And with a generous 1700 kilometres of coastline, there’s enough sand for…

28 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook