Painted Ceramic Tiles
It is commonly said that in 5 centuries no other country produced so many and such high quality tiles as Portugal. Even though they are not originally Portuguese, but, in fact, of Arab origin (al zulaicj, similar to the Portuguese word "azulejo", means flat stone), tiles are one of the forms of artistic expression that have been particularly developed in Portugal, very often conveying a sense of its history and culture.
Tiles originally started out as decorative pieces, whether used as an individual tile or as a wall covering. A figurative form of art, throughout the centuries it was used to represent themes from mythology, hunting, religion and even battles. Appreciating this kind of art, the Church especially ordered tile panels depicting religious scenes, with which it embellished the walls of its temples. The nobility, on the other hand, favoured more profane themes.
Having kept up-to-date with aesthetic innovations through the centuries, the tile has become a perfectly integrated feature of Portuguese modern architecture. So much so, in fact, that you can say that tube stations in Lisbon are "the city's most visited museum".