“The thing about trains… it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.”
– The Conductor – The Polar Express
In the vestibule of the São Bento train station in Porto, Portugal large blue and white azulejo “picture postcards” represent historical events in Portuguese history. The word azulejo comes from an Arabic word meaning “polished stone,” imitating the Roman mosaics. The panels in the train station consist of 20,000 tiles created by Jorge Colaço in the 1930s.
This technique was introduced into Portugal by king Manuel I after a visit to Seville in 1503. The Portuguese adopted the Moorish tradition of ‘horror vacui’ (fear of empty spaces) and covered walls completely with azulejos. They also covered the façades of churches, houses and used the tiles for paving floors.