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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Portugal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The spirit of fado in Lisbon

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An intrinsic element of musical tradition in Portugal – fado is a form of melancholic song that characterises the heart of Portuguese culture. Sarah Gilbert v…

25 Jul 2018 • Sarah Gilbert insert_drive_file Article
6 reasons why you should visit Portugal in 2018

6 reasons why you should visit Portugal in 2018

Portugal is less than three hours’ flight time from the UK, while flights from the US are generally available for under $500. Moreover, once you get there, it…

04 May 2018 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
Your Portugal itinerary: 4 road trip ideas to explore the country

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Portugal is having a real purple patch right now. It’s one of the safest and least expensive countries in Europe with a balmy year-round sunny climate. Your d…

03 May 2018 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
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