Simply beautiful blue and white

One of my earliest memories is of the blue and white Willow pattern plate that sat on a shelf of my grandmother’s Welsh dresser.  It was side by side with a heavy glass plate, with The Lord’s Prayer etched around the rim.  Commonplace in those days, I expect, but I loved them.

I don’t know if it’s that memory, or my lifelong embrace of the sparkling colours of the sea, but I’ve always loved the simplicity of blue and white.  Imagine then, my response, on arriving in Portugal and finding that so many of it’s buildings have been lovingly clad in blue and white tiles.

Porto?  Well, that was just the icing on the cake!  Stepping out of Bolhao Metro, I turned down Rua de Santa Caterina.  Immediately in my vision, the Capela das Almas, a solid wall of blue and white.  It was late evening and dark, so the church was floodlit.  What a welcome!  I knew right then that coming to Porto was going to be all that I had hoped for.

The road dips gently down, passing famous Cafe Majestic (pinch me, I really am here!) and into Praca de Batalha.  I just stood and stared, and stared.

Hauntingly lovely Igreja de Santo Ildefonso

After a night’s sleep, it just got better and better!  Well, you’ve all heard of Sao Bento railway station, haven’t you?  It was just around the corner.

I wasn’t so sure at first about the Se, or Cathedral.  It has the Rose Window and the sturdy pillars of my own Durham Cathedral, back home, but step into the cloisters and you’re in a magical world.  Climbing to the Royal Apartments and viewing terrace, I couldn’t imagine ever attending to the affairs of state with such a view on hand.

The view from the terrace above the cloisters

Stepping in to a fragile and wonderful world

Those courtly days

A cherub or two

A few more?

And one by the window, ready to steal a peep

A room fit for a king

Even the ceiling is gorgeous

But nothing surpasses blue and white

Of course, it doesn’t end there.  There’s the Carmo Church in the University Quarter,  a tile wall that I adore in Rua das Flores, and many others.

Just a glimpse of the Carmo Church, behind the Lion Fountain

Lovely Rua das Flores

But I don’t want to wear you out.  We still have to travel up the Douro together.  There was no shortage of azulejos there either, and the most stunning scenery I’ve seen in some time.  So do come back, won’t you?  I’m looking forward to it.


    1. Grab it, Gilly, if it’s not too dear! I really do need to go back to the area, but the years seem to plan themselves almost without my intervention. I’m in Poland with Dad in May and possibly back there for another wedding later in the year. 🙂 Can hardly complain, can I?


  1. Absolutely glorious photos and magnificent architecture. I’ve wanted to visit for years, but the last time we were in Portugal (Sintra/Lisboa) it was so wet that we were getting sick of the weather and didn’t feel like going any further north so we never made it. Must try harder next time!


    1. Yes, there’s a large element of luck with the weather up there, and it changes your viewpoint completely. It’s strange, both Michael and myself felt a sort of “northern affinity” with Porto. It’s definitely “rough round the edges” so might suit you too.


  2. Stunning! I am a fan of blue & white porcelain too, but have never seen such an abundance in one place ever! Shall have to nudge up Porto on my bucket list 🙂


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  4. Tnanks Mr. B. I could not believe how many of these works of art there were in Porto. It is such a beautiful city, though shabby and down at heel in places. A combination that would make you smile, I know.


    1. Hi Lorna! Yes, they’re gorgeous aren’t they? Part of the reason I fell in love with Portugal in the first place. Yes, there is a connection to Delft. There are a couple of links in my comments to the Wikipedia “Azulejo” page which is really interesting.


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