Alicatado tiles with a geometrical composition

Unknown16th century -

National Palace of Sintra

National Palace of Sintra
Sintra, Portugal

In the rich decoration of the so-called Sala Árabe (Arab Room), from the time of King Manuel I, the most outstanding feature is the panels of geometrical tiles that create a three-dimensional optical illusion, topped by friezes of relief tiles with heads of corn inserted in fleurs-de-lis. The Mudejar decoration of this space may reflect the powerful impression caused by the journey that King Manuel undertook with his first wife, Isabel, the daughter of the Catholic Kings, to the cities of Granada, Guadalupe, Toledo, Guadalajara and Saragossa, in 1498.


  • Title: Alicatado tiles with a geometrical composition
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 16th century -
  • Location: Lisbon (?), Portugal
  • Rights Information: National Palace of Sintra
  • Photo: Escola Profissional de Imagem (EPI)-Curso de Fotografia/Joana Rodrigues/Marina Ramos, 2009.
  • Original Title (portuguese): Azulejos alicatados de composição geométrica
  • Material(s) / Technique(s): Glazed clay / Polychrome faience Alicatado
  • Image Rights: © Palácio Nacional de Sintra / PSML
  • 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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