The Charm of Tiles in Porto

The famous colored tiles add an extra charm to the Invicta City.

Portugal has lots of charm details. Doubtless, one of them is the beauty of the tiles that cover many buildings and houses in Porto. Colored or just in blue and white, these small tiles always attract the visitor’s attention.


 In the panel of the Municipal Library of Porto there are tiles from the 17th and 18th centuries

The tiles arrived in Portugal at the time of king D. Manuel, in the 15th century, with Arab influence. The origin of the word “azulejo” comes from the term “az-zaleij”, of Arab-Hispanic origin, which means “the polished stone”. In Portugal, tile production developed its own language and the country’s history is told in its paintings.

Strolling through Porto Downtown, you can easily find tile panels. The most imposing of the places where you can admire hand-painted tiles in great quantity is São Bento Station. This is the place with the largest number of tiles per square meter in the world! They were all painted by the artist Jorge Colaço in the beginning of the 20th century, and later organized on the walls at the entrance of the station.

São Bento Station

Nearby, you’ll find Saint Ildefonso’s Church, built from 1709 to 1739. However, the tiles were only installed in 1932 by Jorge Colaço. In the Soul’s Chapel – an 18th century chapel, with almost 16.000 tiles – you’ll find the most famous tiles in Porto, related to Saint Catarina and San Francisco of Assisi. Authored by Eduardo Leite, they were also installed in the 20th century.

Soul´s Chapel

At Casa da Música, a spectacular building designed for concerts which opened in 2005, Rem Koolhaas, the project’s designer, created the VIP Room, all covered with tiles. It’s worth visiting.

VIP Room in Casa da Música

If you want to buy a tile to take away as a souvenir, there are thousands of stores scattered around the city. We suggest Prometeu Artesanato, which is located at Rua Mouzinho da Silveira, 136, open every day from 10 AM to 09 PM. If you want to produce your own tile and take it home, the tip is Brâmica, located at Rua Santo Isidro, 181, open from Monday to Friday, from 02 PM to 08 PM. 

You have plenty of options to enjoy and take pictures with the tiles in Porto! Don’t forget to tag @inlifeportugal when following our tips 😉.

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