August 21st, 2017

A weekend on the tiles…

Have you ever arrived in a European City, ready to go, but wondering where to start and wishing you had read the relevant guidebook in advance? Last week I was tempted to tack on two days in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, before heading south to the beaches. It seemed like a good idea, but I hadn’t read the guidebook. Fortunately, I was quickly distracted by this interiors store http://www.avidaportuguesa.com/. It was so beautifully laid out, it made me want to own a shop.  Above all, it stocked a very helpful small book which suggests you can get to know Lisbon via its most important and well-known artistic legacy, ceramic tiles!

A Vida Portuguesa

A Vida Portuguesa

I chose the route through the old Baixa Chiado district and here is a taste of what I found….

Since the 16th century no other city has produced tiles like Lisbon has. Walking down narrow alleyways, plenty of laundry hanging out to dry in the warm air, it’s hard to not notice the tiles and colours that make Lisbon unique. Almost every building, new and old, is covered in them.

Baxia Chiado "tile trail"

Baxia Chiado “tile trail”

The older and non-restored ones are faded, yet still colourful, the glory of their bygone days showing through.

There are so many patterns and colours you can almost believe that you could cross the city without finding two of the same kind. They are buildings with stories to tell.

Nave panels (1762 - 1766?) in an old church in the Baixa Chiado district

Nave panels (1762 – 1766?) in an old church in the Baixa Chiado district

Even the pavements are beautifully tiled.

A Vida Portuguesa

Pavement detail Lisbon, Portugal

The train stations take a more modern approach to tiling, the ones on the left adorn the metro station next to the main “Commercial Square” and the right-hand image is one of the entrances to the Baixa Chiado shopping area.

Metro stations

Tiling detail on Lisbon Metro Stations

Sometimes the best hotels are the ones which are slightly off the beaten track. I came across this “old palace” on the outskirts of Lisbon, now a hotel, with many original tiles intact. Perfect!

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Hotel Palacio Ramalhete, Lisbon

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Hotel Palacio Ramalhete, Lisbon

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