Versão em Português

A Portuguese tradition


Tiles are a highly distinctive symbol of Portuguese culture, art and, ultimately, soul.

Tiles weren't, however, originally created in Portugal. The first known tile applications go back to Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and only reached the Iberian Peninsula in around the 1300s.

In the late 15th century (especially after a trip by the then Portuguese King Manuel I to Spain), tiles finally arrived in Portugal, where they would be applied to multiple palaces, abbeys and gardens. Despite being initially imported, the remarkable proliferation of the use of tiles led to an inevitable establishment of tile workshops in Portugal (in the mid-16th century), with Lisbon immediately cementing itself as a global centre of production.

Over the centuries, tile production in Portugal came across several influences, with the most significant ones being Italian and Flemish artists, as well as a major Asian influence which brought the blue colouring from Chinese pottery.

Naturally, when it comes to any evolution through multiple centuries, there are periods of greater and lesser expansion. Following a phase of little production (at the time of the loss of independence between 1580 and 1640), Portugal saw a new period of national tile production like never before. Generally, this is understood to be the second half of the 17th century and even more significantly the 18th century (until a new period of decline in the beginning of the 19th century).

The 18th century can be considered the most significant for tile production in Portugal, mainly due to both the abundance of wealth from Brazilian gold and the rebuilding of Lisbon, after the 1755 earthquake (which would lead to the propagation of the famous 'Pombalino' patterned tiles).

All in all, and even though tiles have been produced throughout Europe, with some aesthetic variants, no other country has attained the same level as Portugal when it comes to the relevance, range of applications, quantity and quality of tiles.


As with tiles, pottery was initially an import into Portugal. However, national production quickly got going and there are records of pottery production in Portugal since the 16th century.

There were several influences – Spanish, Italian and, of course, Oriental/Chinese – with Portuguese pottery reaching its zenith in the 17th century.

Several cycles followed and pottery which was initially reserved for the elites became more widespread.

The production has been vast over the centuries and there is therefore a long tradition, which should be preserved.

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