Didem Doğan

Portuguese wall ceramics

Both in Lisbon and Porto in the old town most of the buildings are covered with ceramics, these are painted stones that cover both the exteriors and interiors of the buildings, and apart from decoration purposes, also serve for controlling the temperature. The Portuguese took this technique from the Arabs (the word ‘zellige’ in Arabic is used to define this technique), the Arabs took it from the Romans. In Spain, especially in Andalusia, in places where the Arab heritage is well preserved such as Cordoba and Granada (i.e. the Palace of Alhambra), you can see similarly painted stones on walls and stairs, mostly in geometrical forms, as depiction was not used in Islamic art. Here in Portugal you will also see some paintings on the ceramics. If you are in Porto even if you will not be traveling by train, just go inside the São Bento train station in Porto, spend sometime at its entrance hole, before the gate to the platforms, and watch the white blue ceramics on the walls.