Alfama, Baixa, Chiado and Principe Real Districts
I have to confess that I am addicted to Portuguese tiles.
Some people are addicted to chocolate or singing in the shower, while others like me are constantly taken by the intrinsic detail and colourful patterns of one of the most beautiful forms of street art in the world.
Serving a dual purpose of decoration and temperature control, the glass glazed hand painted 15×15 squares were introduced to Portuguese façades in the early 15th century to reflect the torrid summer heat away from the interior of the building.
Although the most elaborate examples were kept for the interior of the houses, these are in its great majority painted with a lapis lazuli blue on a white background and are best reviewed as paintings.
Lisbon has an Azulejo Museum of its own, that I strongly urge you to visit, as a complementary educational visit to the ones you find in the narrow back streets of Alfama, Castelo, Baixa, Bairro Alto, Chiado and Principe Real districts. My favourite is at Calçada do Correio Velho — a little moment of beauty and wonder that cannot be found anywhere else in the world but in Portugal.
The main panel reads: “Para Nascer, Portugal, Para Morrer, O Mundo” (which translates as “To be born, Portugal, to die, The World”).