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The Art of Azulejo

Meeting of the knight Egas Moniz and Alfonso VII, Sao Bento Railway Station, Porto

In the 15th century, King Manuel I of Portugal visited Seville, then the world capital of the Spanish-Islamic art of ceramic tile making, known as azulejo.  Since that time, it has been widely used in Portuguese buildings both public and private, developing into a national art form.

Azulejo often takes the form of hand-painted, blue and white murals depicting important events in Portuguese history, like the fantastic examples in Sao Bento Railway Station, Porto.  It also appears in an endless variety of multi-colored geometric patterns, on building exteriors, walls and floors.  Ceramic tile is extremely durable and heat-resistant, so most remain in pristine condition, even after decades in the sun.  Others are centuries old, slightly little worse for the wear, but still beautiful and mesmerizing.

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