Azulejos (singular: azulejo) are ceramic tiles used as decoration inside and outside a building. Often these tiles depict historical tableaus and biblical fragments. There are also azulejos in checkered motives in countless variations.
The word azulejo is derived from Arabic word Al-zuleique which means smooth polished little stone. The Arabs might have been inspired by Roman mosaics. In turn the Portuguese kings admired the way buildings in Arabian regions were decorated with these polished stone so much they adopted these as azulejos into Portuguese architecture starting from the 15th century. Andalusia region in South Spain with its strong Moorish influence also adopted this tile craft. However the Spanish tiles are colourful unlike the majority of old azulejos in Portugal which are dominantly in blue. This might declare the origin of the word blue in Porguese and perhaps Spanish as well; azul.
Here are azulejos I captured in Porto. First come the churches.
Capela das Almas (Das Almas chapel) located at Porto busiest shopping street; Rua Santa Catarina
Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
Igreja de Santo António dos Congregados, the blue tiled building in the middle. On the right is Estação de São Bento with its fabulous azulejos decorated main hall.
My family and I walked from our hotel in Boavista, along the Douro to la Ribeira, approximately 5 km. It was a tough walk under the scorching sun with temperature of 30 degree Celsius but it was surely worth it when we saw these houses. They are decorated with checkered motive azulejos.
When I come back to Portugal, I would like to explore more places with azulejos building.