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The azulejos of Portugal

Lisbon is all about beautiful sights – be it the hilltop views, the Tejo River, or the touchingly run-down architecture. But as I walk around this city, what catches my eye most intensely are the azulejos, the blue tiles that grace the façade walls, metro passages, churches, apartment interiors, train stations, and even nondescript grocery shops.

I am endlessly fascinated by these ubiquitous ceramic tiles that are without doubt Portugal’s most expressive visual art form. First introduced by the Moors in the 15th century, azulejos have undergone a variety of incarnations, showcasing elements from different eras – from Renaissance themes to Art Déco motifs. While you can see them all over Lisbon, for a close look at a zillion of them in one place, head to Museu Nacional do Azulejo in a former convent near the river.

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