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Magazine Art + Culture | 02 Mar 2016



It was imported from Spain, but decorative tiling has been inextricably Portuguese for five centuries, setting Portugal apart as a world icon in this rich and mind-blowing art.

The first decorative tiles, azulejos in Portuguese, to be used in Portugal came from Seville (Spanish-Moorish) at the end of the 15th century. Since this era, many chapters have been written on the technical and aesthetic evolution of decorative tiling, and on the five centuries in which it was (and still is) used as a decorative element and as a way of transforming spaces. In Portugal, or in countries in Latin America, Africa, or in the US or India’s Goa (where there are examples of Portuguese azulejos), there is a series of principles that speaks of an inventive people.
The National Azulejo Museum [MNAz] is today a place that houses and tells the stories of decorative tiling. Maria Antónia Pinto de Matos, director of the MNAz, stresses the intangible legacy installed in the stunning old Convento da Madre de Deus, founded by Queen Leonor in 1509. (…)

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Text: Cátia Fernandes
Photos: Miguel Costa

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