Just… telling a story, Portuguese style

There are lots of ways to tell a story. Here in Portugal the most popular way comes in the form of wall tiles, or azulejos. Huge old panels of the tiles are to be found in many churches and public buildings, some of the finest examples appearing in Lisbon’s Museu Nacional do Azulejo. They beautifully illustrate scenes from the bible, and Portuguese history and lifestyle. By contrast, it’s great to turn the corner in a holiday complex in Cabanas and find a modern equivalent. The scene above portrays peasant life, complete with burro. The Algarve hasn’t yet strayed too far from its roots. You can still find a donkey in the nearby fields, and simple homesteads, where people grow most of what they need and sell, or give, any surplus to their neighbours.

Loulé is one of my favourite places for a mooch. A great place for stories and links to the past. The central market is a beautiful building, reminiscent of tales of Arabian nights, and resplendent with jewel bright treats. Within its walls are reminders of traders from the past: the knife grinder, sharpening scissors with a steady pump of his foot, while the market stalls in the surrounding streets are not vastly different than they have been for a hundred years or more. On Saturday mornings the place comes to life, the stalls stacked high with fresh produce- vibrant greens and carrots, ruby red tomatos and peppers, juicy olives, honey from the hills, aromatic cheese and spicy sausage- all disappear, quite rapidly, into bags and baskets. Coffee shops abound in the neighbouring streets, and news and gossip is exchanged as ever it was. But by early afternoon the stalls are packed away and the streets swept. Inside the market the floors are hosed and surfaces gleam, though the smell of fish may linger. And peace descends, till Monday.

Browsing the old blog for details of the Tile Museum, I came upon this link, which illustrates Loulé rather well. It includes azulejos in Nossa Senhora de Conceição, but beware- it’s rather chocolate heavy!

Another week goes by, and still no resolution in sight. What can we do to bring this misery to an end?

91 thoughts on “Just… telling a story, Portuguese style

  1. Thank you for sharing this very beautiful way of telling stories and leaving memories.
    It must be so disconcerting to be so near the trouble. Praying for an end.

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  2. The tile work in Portugal and Spain is simply gobsmacking. I remember standing in Porto train station totally mesmerised. A riot of blue and white and stories from floor to ceiling. We are so dull in Aus compared to this. Thanks for the colourful stroll. Mel

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  3. I think that one thing that makes travel to Portugal special is because so much is not very different from what it was like a hundred years or more ago. I remember all the beautiful tiled walls, both inside and out, decorating the wonderful buildings that we saw on our visit there.

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  4. The tile stories were one of the things we loved about Portugal. I had no idea how much time you could spend in the Museum of Azulejos, and we’d budgeted too little before planning to catch a train. One more reason to go back, and there are so many!

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    • It took us 3 separate trips to Lisbon to finally reach the museum, I. J., because it’s a little out of the way and because there is so much else to see there. My favourite place is the Jeronimos monastery. I need to go back!.

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  5. I love “reading” stories this way! We bumped into a cute place on Sanibel Island, on our recent trip to Florida. The place was full of pictures and paper cuts from old newspapers. And quite few autographs in the restroom stalls LOL
    Take care, Jo!! Hugs, xx

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  6. I love the beautiful azulejos – I remember a particular rainy day in Povoa de Varzim (I think ☺️) where we saw these azulejos depicted the fishing heritage of the town – it was such a beautiful sight (even in the rain). And yes, they’re like story books … ah, thanks for the memories!

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    • There are so many places known to us that tell their story and heritage in this way. I always thought stained glass was beautiful but I have been overpowered by the azulejos here. It’s a different dimension 🤗💟

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  7. I remember my mother-in-law telling me about this tile museum, or I think it was this very one, many years ago. She was an artist and traveled to Portugal and brought home some tiles. She was so enthusiastic. I hadn’t thought of this in years, and your photos made me remember her appreciation. 🙂

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  8. I loved the simplicity of those Portuguese villages and the very scrumptious vegetables and fruit. Markets are a favourite haunt of mine. Those tiles of images tell the viewer so much more than words would ever do. Lovely post, Jo.

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  9. I love the markets in the Med, every country seems to have brilliant ones from villages to major towns. My last great market in which I spent ages was in Valencia and oh my, I spent so much money on fruit that mostly went bad on me – because I’m greedy and bought far too much. How many peaches can one eat in one day! Loved your tiles, of course, and I’ve made a note to visit the Azuelo Museum when next in Lisbon – which hopefully, will be in June but I’ve learned not to get my hopes up too much so as not to be disappointed.

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  10. That sounds like my sort of market! And I love azulejos, but had somehow never realised there was a museum devoted to them in Lisbon, despite several visits. Something for the future I hope 🙂

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  11. Azulejo tiles are beautiful Jo, and I do love how they tell a story. Here in North America the design idea was modified and brought into homes (kitchens and bathrooms). The colours were much more muted of course, but they were a huge design trend here a couple of years ago. In this case it was more about pattern rather than story.
    And you’re right, another week of utter madness leaving us feeling heavy hearted and powerless.

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    • I’ve seen a few fully tile patterned bathrooms and kitchens, Alegria. Not really a fan, but each to his own. My preferred ones are usually in church cloisters and the like. No end in sight and the reports getting worse.

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  12. Oh how I love those markets, overflowing with fresh produce & wares! Thanks for the walk Jo, I am at a loss with what is happening in Ukraine. I cannot fathom what the people of Ukraine are experiencing, my heart breaks for them💕

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    • It makes terrible reading, doesn’t it, Lynn? I can’t understand why they can’t just stop and talk. It seems evil what they are doing. I seek distractions and still go on enjoying life but your stomach churns when you think about it.

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  13. Delicious walk, Jo! The link to your previous chocolate post has me salivating for all of those rich treats, and the commentary about the weekend market visit has also whetted my appetite. I think I need to walk now to burn off the virtual calories you have shared!

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  14. Lovely to see these old traditions maintained, and evolving too. And my goodness, I do miss a proper old-style market with people trading what they’ve just produced themselves. I don’t think I’d be able to find a market like that here any more.. Farmers’ markets just aren’t the same.

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