I was rather pleased with myself last weekend at the Upper West Side Housing Works thrift store. I spotted a beautiful blue handpainted pitcher that had a vaguely familar look. I turned it upside down, and there it was: "Made in Portugal". I promptly paid $6 and proudly brought it
I'm Portuguese you see, and we are pretty much obssessed with blue and white ceramics. We have a long history of making pottery and the Portuguese have the most beautiful handpainted tiles. Yes, tiles. You will find them decorating walls everywhere, churches, rail stations, houses, monuments, etc. They often depict historical scenes and are a major part of Portuguese architecture and history. They are called Azulejos (I love this word). The name is derived from the arabic (from back in the day when Portugal was occupied by the Moors), and the word azul - also means the colour blue. They tend to be blue and white but you may also find yellow and some other colours.
My favourite azulejos are the ones on the church (Igreja do Carmo) in my home tome of Porto. Absolutely beautiful.
And of course the tiles of Porto's railway station Sao Bento, also a beauty.