TRAVELING THROUGH THE ART OF AZULEJOS

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The art of Azulejos has produced stunning masterpieces during the centuries. From Spain to Brasil, from Portugal to Central America. The most beautiful azulejos of the hispanic world to admire at least once in a lifetime. 

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Azulejos in Lisbon, Portugal © Javier Etcheverry

Azulejos get their name from the arabic words “al zuleycha”. It means polished small stone, and date back to early 13th century Spain. Although the method of glazing itself originated in Egypt during the 3rd dynasty, what we know to be azulejos today were created by the re-introduction of the glazing method through the gates of Constantinople (Istanbul) to Spain. Later in the 15th century, azulejos were further influenced by the Renaissance and the Italian technique of majolica.

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The stunning azulejos ceiling of the Blue Mosque, also known as Sultanahmet Mosque, in Istanbul

Azulejos truly reflect the history of their designers. The Moorish cut tiles called alicatados are geometrically assembled pieces of tile. They reflect the influence of the Middle East when the glazed tiles made their first origin in Europe. The painted panels of the 15th and 16th centuries reflect  motifs of the Renaissance grotesque, wars and mythology. The 17th and 18th century tiles were popularized through the artistic design of Dutch tile painters. They chose to paint the tiles in blue and white thanks to the influence of the Chinese porcelain designs. Finally in the 18th century, the popularity of blue and white azulejos encompassed Portugal and dominated the country’s architectural design.

So a trip down the history lane of azulejos is highly recommended.

THE ALHAMBRA OF GRANADA, SPAIN

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The Alhambra Palace in Granada

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The court of the lions inside the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain

Located in Granada, Andalusia, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a major tourist attraction and displays Moorish tiles that date back to Sultans of Granada Yusuf I and Muhammed V during the Muslim ruling of the land before the Christian conquest in 1492. For the visitors who wish to stay inside the palace and continue experiencing its arabesque ambiance, Parador de Granada will not disappoint with its tiled rooms and Moorish inspired interior design.

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Parador de Granada, the only hotel inside the Alhambra Palace

SAO FRANCISCO CHURCH AND CONVENT IN SALVADOR, BRAZIL

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The Sao Francisco Church located in the historical centre of Salvador, Pelourinho. azulejos

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The azulejos inside the courtyard of the Sao Francisco Convent in Salvador, Brazil

Located in the historic center of Salvador in the State of Bahia, this historic church dating back to the 16th Century features a unique nave with three aisles and azulejo panels that reflect the Chinese-Dutch inspired blue-white azulejo panels imported from Lisbon, which cover the lower parts of the walls of the main chapel and portray the life of St Francis of Assisi. To see this amazing historic gem in person, staying at The Villa Bahia in Salvador will be the best choice. The hotel combines two adjoining colonial homes from the Portuguese era and captures the distinct character of the historic quarter of Pelourinho.

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The Villa Bahia Hotel in Pelourinho, Salvador, is located on the main square and just in front of the Sao Francisco Church

LISBON, PORTUGAL

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Palacio Fronteira in Lisbon, Portugal, has some of the most beautiful azulejos in the world

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The Sao Vicente de Fora Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal © Alfredo Henriques

For those who would like to make the most of their azulejo sighting trip, there is nowhere richer and more elaborate than Lisbon. With so many sights to see. Including The National Azulejo Museum, Sao Vicente de Fora Monastery, Monastery of Alcobaça and The Fronteira Palace. As well as sights in subway stations, parks and small convents. Lisbon is a city full of historic treasures for azulejo fans. To make the most out of a trip to this beautiful and historic city, Heritage Avenida Liberdade Hotel is a fantastic choice: winner of the 2016 Travelers’ Choice for top hotels and best service. This 18th century townhouse was designed by architect Miguel Cancio Martins. And it is located in the heart of the historic district and Lisbon’s main avenue.

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The avenida room at the Heritage Avenida Liberdade Hotel in Lisbon, Portugal

CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA TONANTZINTLA IN PUEBLA, MEXICO

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The Church Santa Maria in Tonantzintla is located in Puebla, Mexico © Roy Harkow

Located in San Andres Cholula, Puebla, this one of a kind church is an architectural mosaic of religious imagery that reflect influences of the Aztec culture, fusing the indigenous and Spanish occupancy of the 18th Century. While in town, another visit can be made to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Church for tile designs that reflect 19th and 20th centuries. For a comfortable stay at a boutique hotel, Casona Maria is definitely a popular choice for those who wish to be in the center of Puebla’s historic center.

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One of the stylish rooms at Casona Maria in Puebla, Mexico

PLAZA DE ESPAÑA IN SEVILLE, SPAIN

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Plaza de Espana in Sevilla, Spain

Located within the Maria Luisa Park, in Seville, the plaza features a half mile of tiled fountains, pavilions, walls, ponds, and benches. Designed by Aníbal González, the tiled alcoves representing different provinces along the walls are a must see. For a truly luxurious stay in the beautiful city of Seville, Hotel Alfonso XIII is the ultimate choice. This 1928 built hotel was originally created by King Alfonso XIII to give his guests the most luxurious hotel experience. With architectural details reflecting the Moorish heritage of Seville and Andalusia, guests are sure to lavish themselves in the hotel’s mesmerizing interior details.

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The outdoor patio at the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, Spain

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