Behold the beauty of Calçada Portuguesa

If you have ever been to Lisbon, in fact if you have ever seen pictures of Lisbon streets, then the ‘Calçada Portuguesa’ will have almost certainly have caught your eye. This unique style of cobbled pavements which began life in Porto (but took on a life of its own in Lisbon) can be found across Portugal as well as in Brazil and in former Portuguese colonies.

We first walked across them in Madeira where the half moon shapes in Funchal caught my eye. We next saw them in Vila Real de Santo António where the main square is almost as dramatic as Lisbon squares. It is not just pavements and squares where you will find, many entrances and market halls have used them and even the streets in villages in the hills have simple designs.

Roman influence
Roman origins

The origins of ‘Calçada Portuguesa’ are Roman and Arabic, but the patterns and style we see now stem from 19th century designs. It is skilled work, and in fact a School for Pavers was opened in the late 20th century. Generally the cobbled pavements you will be walking across will be made from limestone and basalt, or varying shades of limestones. The limestone probably is from quarries in the Aire and Candeeiros mountains, although there are smaller quarries dotted elsewhere including the Algarve.

Understandably the cost of maintenance and repair is significant. SlabsWhich may explain, given Portugal’s economic woes, why some councils are replacing pavements and squares with slabs rather than limestone cobbles. It caused uproar in Olhão when this happened but the slabs remain. If you are wondering by the way where my info has come from there is an 179 page manual on ‘Calçada Portuguesa’ detailing history, usage, application techniques, paving terminology, patterns and standards. It is written in both Portuguese and English, the English commencing from page 140. I found it is surprisingly interesting considering is is a manual on stone!

Mathematical Equations in Limestone

Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.

15 thoughts

  1. It’s such a pity that features such as these beautiful cobble mosaics are being replaced with soulless slabs. Another step in the direction of the de-characterisation of our towns and cities which are being increasingly ‘homogenised’ for the sake of saving a bit of money.

    1. I know . . . . . . . .but when there isn’t enough money for social or health care I guess they have no choice but . . . . .. .

  2. They are magical, aren’t they? I remember being totally enchanted in Lisbon. 🙂 After a while you don’t notice so much, which is a shame. I feel so sorry for the guys when they’re busy replacing sections in the hot sun.

    1. oh I know such hard work, but they look so stunning. Have they finished the latest section of white cobbles in Tavira yet?

      1. The bit in front of the bank is done and they had paper flowers every where for the football. I meant to post but it seems a bit late now. 🙂

  3. Fabulous patterns and I love the splendid fountain at the top. I’ve been to Macau and the old town looks very similar, a strange experience in part of China!

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