Can you imagine enjoying a foreign destination not only for its scenery and inherent natural beauty, but also for stunning, eye-catching "artworks" painted/installed on almost everything you can see?

That's what you can find in Portugal, where you’ll discover a profusion of Azulejos. What on earth are they?

Azulejo (Portuguese) is a form of tin-glazed ceramic tile work on the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, ordinary houses, schools, and even railways stations.

They were not only used as an ornamental art form, but also had a specific functional capacity such as temperature control in homes. Azulejos still constitute a major aspect of Portuguese architecture with many Azulejos chronicling the major historical and cultural aspects of Portuguese history.

On a travel media press trip to Portugal I was captivated by this tiled beauty. Sitting outside the main line railroad station in Porto, I felt more relaxed than I ever thought possible. With its totally restful environment, the station's beauty validated yet again why Portugal is such a gorgeous country. Equally important, it made me appreciate how fortunate I am to be a travel journalist.

One of the many joys in Northern Portugal is the local scenery. On one of our local bus tours, we came across a classically evocative, almost from a century-old fable, this wonderful looking lady who was showcasing her freshly picked grapes, and telling us in Portuguese how special her port wine was. Sadly, we did not have time to sample any of it!

If there is one constantly stunning sight in Portugal, it’s the profusion of what I call “humming hillsides” with row upon row of grapes. Their symmetry is a joy to behold, and it looks as if some giant hand has carefully laid out a perfect quilt of latticed greenery.

That, plus the aroma that wafts lazily towards you, is wonderfully intoxicating.

The Douro River is one more major tourist attraction, and for a unique tourist perspective of Portugal, take one of the many short cruises along this alluring river.

Even though I knew Azulejos were all over the place, it still surprised me to see they were in the local train station of Pinhao. The sight was one of the most charming, indeed elegant railroad stations I’ve ever seen.

The Azulejos tiles were introduced by the Moors in the 16th century onwards, and the Pinhao station should be a must see attraction on your trip to Portugal. It features 24 dazzling Azulejos that colorfully depict the local region’s scenery and culture.

For more about this dazzling destination go to visitportugal.pt.

To connect with John Clayton, email him at jdcradio@gmail.com.

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