What is the meaning of the Portuguese ceramic swallows?

Andorinhas, andorinhas… their delicate, flowery name immediately makes me think about the first Spring days, when the sun timidly shines…

Sara Riobom
2 de December de 2015

Andorinhas, andorinhas… their delicate, flowery name immediately makes me think about the first Spring days, when the sun timidly shines over the tiles.
In my childhood memories they go along with lazy mornings eating cherries by the porch, while these gentle creatures come and go in cheerful circles.

Besides enjoying their presence in Spring, you can also find ceramic swallows – andorinhas – hanging on the walls of both Portuguese restaurants and private homes all year long. Moreover, they are commonly found in souvenirs shops in Portugal, in different colours, shapes and sizes.
But do Portuguese ceramic swallows have a meaning, or are they just decorative? Do they stand simply for their visual beauty, or is there a symbolism behind it?

If you want to unveil this secret and learn about the Portuguese culture, you should definitely book a private tour in Porto with me 😉
orange ceramic swallows

The history of Portuguese ceramic swallows

The first ceramic swallows ever sold were designed in 1891 by a famous Portuguese handcrafter, Bordallo Pinheiro, and were soon adopted by common people.
As these migratory birds always seek to build their nest in the same place where they previously inhabited, they became a symbol of Family and Home. That was particularly relevant, given the emigration waves that Portugal went through during the XX century.
They also have a single partner during their entire life, and therefore also stand for Love, Loyalty and Faithfulness.
With such powerful symbolism, it became common to exchange ceramics swallows between lovers, when communication between the opposite sex was not so easy. Moreover, they are amulets of harmony, happiness and prosperity at the houses they are hanged on.
There isn’t a much better Portuguese souvenir to bring back home to your beloved ones!

Where to but the Portuguese ceramic swallows?

In order to get them, you have to get them at A Vida Portuguesa, a famous store in Portugal that sells products from Portuguese brands that range from ceramics, textiles, homeware, stationary… you name it!
You can also buy it directly from the brand Bordallo Pinheiro, which belongs to the group Vista Alegre.

Save this article for later:

history portuguese ceramic swallows vista alegre bordallo pinheiro
meaning portuguese swallows

Related tours

Half Day private tour in Porto (4h)
Behind-the-scenes access to Porto's well kept secrets.
From 89€ / person
Check Tour
Full Day private tour in Porto (7h)
The most exclusive wine lodge in Porto is waiting for you.
From 145€ / person
Check Tour
Private Jewish Heritage tour of Porto
Discover the hidden treasures of the Jewish history in Porto.
From 89€ / person
Check Tour
Private Wine tour in Douro Valley
Exclusive tour of family-owned wineries and hidden culinary gems.
From 160€ / person
Check Tour
River cruise and wine tour in Douro Valley
Enjoy award-winning wines, authentic Portuguese cuisine and amazing river views.
From 165€ / person
Check Tour

Related articles

Where to eat the best Portuguese Egg Tart in Porto

Maybe I’m missing something but I have some trouble in understanding people’s fascination with pastéis de nata, or the Portuguese…

Sara Riobom
29 de October de 2019
What to do on a rainy day in Porto

The rainy season is inconvenient for many travelers, but in Porto, it could turn into a magical experience.So if you…

Sara Riobom
29 de March de 2024
Janet Echelman sculpture in Matosinhos

Some readers sent me emails asking me what is the purpose of the giant net in Matosinhos. Someone even suggested…

Sara Riobom
25 de October de 2015
Half Day private tour in Porto (4h)
Check Tour