One of the most iconic representations of history and culture of Porto are the tiles spread across the city, and the most famous tile is the white and blue one.
The concept was brought to Portugal from Seville, Spain, by D. Manuel I, and while the Portuguese did not master this art, what only happened in the XVI century, the tiles were imported from other countries – Spain, Italy and Netherlands.
Portugal developed its own language in the art of tiles, expressing stories and events through the tiles, especially with religious nature. Over the years, the potters evolved and followed the different artistic movements, expressing through the tiles, the art history and the evolution of the techniques used in the creation of the tile.
The harmony between the use of granite and tiles in the buildings all over the city, created the image of Porto as we still recognise it today.
The tiles stayed to remember and leave a feeling of nostalgia of the past time where the spirit of Porto’s citizens was lived intensely. Porto by Livraria Lello shares some of the best places where you can admire this open-air art and feel the spirit of this wonderful city.
Igreja do Carmo
Near Livraria Lello you can find one of the most beautiful churches in Porto, Igreja do Carmo e dos Carmelitas. The origins of this church date back to the XVIII century, but the façade of white and blue tiles, painted by Carlos Branco, was only installed in 1910.
In this building there are two churches, since the nuns lived and worked in Igreja dos Carmelitas and the monks in Igreja do Carmo, separated by a small building between the two churches.
Address: Rua do Carmo, Porto
From Livraria Lello: 2 min
São Bento Railway Station
In São Bento railway station you can find its atrium covered in 20.000 tiles hand-painted by the painter and potter Jorge Colaço. These white and blue tiles express the history of means of transport and the history of Portugal.
Address: Praça Almeida Garrett, Porto
From Livraria Lello: 6 min
Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
The tiles that cover the façade of Igreja de Santo Ildefonso were painted by the same artist that painted the tiles of São Bento Railway Station, Jorge Colaço.
Address: Rua de Santo Ildefonso, 11, Porto
From Livraria Lello: 10 min
Sé do Porto
Inside the gothic style cloister of Sé do Porto, you will be astonished by the beautiful white and blue tiles from the painter Valentim de Almeida.
Address: Terreiro da Sé, Porto
From Livraria Lello: 10 min
Pérola do Bolhão
The tradition grocery, established in 1917, is well-known by its façade in Art Nouveau and its colourful tiles that cover the façade and brighten the street.
If you decide to visit the façade of this grocery, you can seize the opportunity and also visit the interior of the shop, which is worthwhile and mouth-watering because of the variety of cheeses, sausages, wines and regional biscuits you will find in the grocery.
Address: Rua Formosa, 279, Porto
From Livraria Lello: 11 min
Capela das Almas
Capela das Almas (Souls Chapel) is one of the best examples of how tiles are used to depict stories of religious nature. The paintings of the white and blue tiles in the chapel represent moments of the lives of São Francisco de Assis and Santa Catarina, which named the most important shopping street of Porto – Rua de Santa Catarina.
Address: Rua de Santa Catarina, 428, Porto
From Livraria Lello: 13 min
Painel Ribeira Negra
Ribeira Negra Panel, a canvas of 40 meters created by Júlio Resende, can be found in the entrance of Ribeira’s tunnel. The painting of this artist in a panel of modern tiles depicts what it’s like to live in Ribeira, Porto – there is both misery and greatness around the people who live in this area.
Address: Túnel da Ribeira, Porto
From Livraria Lello: 15 min
Banco de Materiais
Created by the city council of Porto in 2010, Banco de Materiais seeks to preserve and exhibit important construction and decorative pieces of Porto that express the history of the city. In Banco de Materiais you can find every type of tile, as well as other types of pieces – pieces of iron and decorative stones.
Address: Praça de Carlos Alberto, 71, Porto
From Livraria Lello: 5 min
Through the streets of Porto
The tiles being an open-air art, if you take a walk through the streets of Porto, look up and be amazed with the amount of stunning façades that you will find along the way.