There were a lot of things I was looking forward to on my trip to Portugal - enjoying some port wine, escaping the fussy New England weather and meeting some of our lovely travelers, just to name a few—but if there is one thing I’ve learned from traveling it’s that sometimes the best part of a trip is something completely unexpected. For me, the beautiful tiles in Portugal were among the most surprising and delightful parts of the journey.
What is azulejo?
Azulejo is a type of ceramic tile that is both beautiful and functional. This type of tile is used to decorate buildings and also protect them from the region’s harsh humidity. Inside homes, the painted tile even helps regulate temperature. The tiles are often decorated with scenes from Portugal’s history and highlight important cultural aspects.
I particularly loved the pattern of the tile inside the Stock Exchange Palace in Portugal. The colors are gorgeous and the design is incredibly intricate.
These pretty blue and green tiles are inside the Sintra National Palace. I loved the pattern and how bright the colors still are hundreds of years later.
Along the streets
Although this picture is not the azulejo tiles, I also loved the cobblestone streets in the small towns we spent time exploring in the Algarve region.
I brought back some small decorative tiles as souvenirs for my friends and family. When it comes to buying souvenirs, the more authentic, the better. I bought mine from a tiny store in Evora that was far off the beaten path, and run by one woman who handmade everything. The tiles are gorgeous and mean so much because she paints them all herself!
It’s best to buy tiles that already have small hooks on the back so you can easily display them once you get home. The other great thing about bringing home tiles for souvenirs is that they fit easily in your suitcase—you can wrap them in newspaper, put them in the middle of all your clothes and know they will arrive safely!