It is the Arabic word that defines itself as “small smooth and polish stone”, used by the Muslims in the middle age.
The Portuguese culture is intrinsically linked to the tile. Many Portuguese buildings and public spaces are known for these wonderful elements that represent Portuguese history and characterize us beyond borders. We cannot speak about the history of the Portuguese tile without speaking about its origin and the strong incidence of the Muslim culture.
Brought by King Manuel I, in the year 1498, during one of his trips to Spain, it was
replicated by the Portuguese, after learning the method of manufacture and
painting, becoming one of the strongest elements of expression of our culture.
The ornamental exuberance came from the east, from China, which supplied the blue ink and allowed different compositions, dynamic and full of movement, and from Holland large quantities of tiles were imported. It was from this time on that their use was extended to churches, convents, palaces, manor houses, gardens, fountains, and stairways. Its application abounds, so much so that the technique used by the Portuguese expanded beyond borders and made Portugal an unequivocal representation of this small decorative square.
Whoever travels through our country observes tiles in practically all Portuguese buildings from the middle age until now, making Portuguese architecture a true open-air museum