Alicatado and corda-seca tiled floor

Unknown15th century -

National Palace of Sintra

National Palace of Sintra

Detail of one of the oldest Mudejar floors in Portugal, possibly consisting of tiles produced in Seville, and perhaps dating from the building campaign promoted by King Afonso V, in the mid-15th century. Although tradition has attributed the wearing down of this rare tiled floor to the fact that King Afonso VI used to walk constantly back and forth from his bed to the window overlooking the Serra de Sintra, the truth is that the floor had already been in place for more than two centuries when this king was imprisoned here, between 1674 and 1683, on the orders of his brother King Pedro II.

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  • Title: Alicatado and corda-seca tiled floor
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 15th century -
  • Location: Alicatado Lisbon (?), Portugal, cuerda seca Seville, Spain
  • Rights Information: National Palace of Sintra
  • Photo: Carlos Monteiro, 2010.
  • Original Title (portuguese): Pavimento cerâmico alicatado e corda-seca
  • Material(s) / Technique(s): Glazed clay / Alicatado and corda-seca with polychrome enamels
  • Image Rights: © Direção-Geral do Património Cultural / Arquivo de Documentação Fotográfica
  • Hispano-Moresque Tiles: The interior walls of the National Palace of Sintra are lined with Europe’s largest set of Mudejar tiles still in place today, most of which originate from Seville, although one should not exclude the (as yet still unconfirmed) possibility that many of the tiles were produced locally with the use of imported labour. Mudejar tiles were brought to Portugal with the arrival of Arab culture in the Iberian Peninsula, incorporating new ceramic techniques and decorative styles. This influence continued even after the Christian reconquest of the territory in the 12th century, later giving rise, in the 15th and 16th centuries, to the appearance of various types of tiles and the use of different techniques that reflected the evolution of decorative styles – alicatado, corda-seca, aresta, esgrafitado (sgraffito) and relevado (relief work). Visitors to the palace can therefore enjoy a unique experience, since they are afforded an overall view of this heritage in Portugal – a specific form of decorative coverings for walls and floors, involving the use of exclusive patterns, such as the motif of the armillary sphere or relief tiles.
  • Type: Ceramics, Tiles

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