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THE HISTORY OF PORTUGUESE COBBLESTONE PAVEMENT

The term "Portuguese pavement" in general refers to the use of black and white limestones applied side by side with minimal spacing between the stones. There are, however, many variations of this concept including color, form and application method variations.


This Portuguese art is partly and heritage from the Romans which was utilized as pavement in the first roads that connected the most important cities of the great empire, including Lisbon.

In the fifth century, the stones also started to be used as a way to balance the Portuguese ships in their trips to new lands. Once the ships arrived at the new destination, all the Portuguese stone was removed from the boats and used as pavement to free up space for the new products of those lands.

Between 1840 and 1846, General Tenent Eusébio Cândido Pinheiro Furtado promoted Portuguese pavement as we know it today using his position as a governor of S.Jorge Castle to decorate the castle with large "stone carpets" built by the prisoners of the castle, called "guilhetas". People from Lisbon started to visit the bastle because of this new pavement which made monarchs recognise its importance.

Shortly after, in 1840, Rossio square started to be paved. This was the first square to utilize only black and white glazing limestone with a pattern called "Wide Sea" as a way to represent past Portuguese conquers.

Due to the popularity of Rossio's square pavement, multiple streets and squares were made using the same style, including: Largo de camões (1867), Príncipe Real (1870), Praça do Município (1876), Cais do Sodré (1894). Many of those squares have suffered aesthetic modifications through time.

Liberty avenue, started in 1879 and ended in 1908 at "Marquês de Pombal" with large drawing in the stones transformed Lisbon into the city of reference for this kind of pavement. This avenue, inspired by Art Nouveau is still original to this day.

Today, Calçada à Portuguesa is spread all over the world in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Luanda, Maputo, Macau and New York, and some of the most common designs include caravels, wind roses, sea creatures and regular patterns.

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