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Meet the partners: colourful ceramic heritage in Almada

The CULT-TIPS partners are spread across the whole of Europe and live close to some fascinating cultural heritage. In this series of blog posts we'd like to introduce you to some of the iconic heritage that our partners want to share!

Portuguese tile tradition: a complex puzzle

The tiles on Lisbon's walls tell us about the history of the city and of Portugal. Once perfect and flawless, now time, sun and sea have left their mark. Many tiles have been worn down. Broken or lost tiles could not always be replaced with the same kind.Instead of removing all the tiles and starting over, homeowners simply replaced the missing tiles with others. Instead of removing all the tiles and starting over, homeowners simply replaced the missing tiles with others. This sometimes created beautiful collages, telling their own story.

Tiles with geometric patterns

Portuguese tiles, called azulejos, adorn the inside and outside of almost every house in Portugal. They were introduced to the Iberian peninsula by the Moors. After the Moors left, the fashion continued. The Moors limited themselves to geometric patterns of triangles, squares and polygons, probably because many of them belonged to the Islamic faith, which forbade depictions of living beings.

Tiles with floral patterns

In the 16th century, Portuguese and Flemish artists began producing tiles in Lisbon. Blue and yellow were the favourite colours and the tiles usually depicted floral patterns or religious scenes. The ever-growing Portuguese empire provided inspiration for increasingly exotic themes and colours.

Blue and white tiles

Towards the end of the 17th century, fashion changed and blue-and-white tiles became popular. This was probably under the influence of blue-and-white porcelain from China, which was imported to Europe at that time. Many people think the word azulejo comes from the Portuguese word for blue (azul), but the word is actually much older and has its origins in Arabic.

Multi-coloured tiles

After the 1755 earthquake, there was a return to multi-coloured tiles. The Portuguese, meanwhile, had discovered in Brazil that tiles were ideal for blocking moisture. Rebuilt houses in Lisbon were finished with tiles, and this tradition continued until today.

The fondness for blue and white has always remained, and some beautiful examples of this can be seen in Porto at São Bento station. But development has not stood still. Like the country of Portugal, tiles have also become increasingly modern. Various companies and organisations such as the Lisbon Metro, have encouraged the development of both classic and modern tiles.

Portuguese partners: AEEN

Our Portuguese partners, the AEEN school group in Almada, just across the bridge from Lisbon, hosted our first meeting and are working on developing and testing new materials along with the other partners.


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