Portuguese pavement

Portuguese Pavement

Portuguese pavement

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Portuguese pavement (in Portuguese, Calçada Portuguesa), is a traditional style pavement used for many pedestrian areas in Portugal, it can also be found in Olivenza in Spain, and throughout the old Portuguese colonies such as Brazil and Macau. Being usually used in sidewalks, it is in plazas and atrium this art finds its deepest expression.

One of the most distinctive uses of this paving technique is the image of the Saint Queen Elizabeth of Portugal, in Coimbra, designed with black and white stones of basalt and limestone.


Paving as a craft is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia, where rocky materials were used in the inside and outside of constructions, being later brought to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

The Romans used to pave the vias connecting the empire using materials to be found in the surroundings. Some of the techniques introduced then are still applied on the Calçada, most noticeably the use of a foundation and a surfacing.

Setting the stones

Upon a well compacted trench of argillaceous materials, craftsmen lay a bedding of gravel, which will accommodate the stones, acting as a cement.

An unsure future

Very few workers (calceteiros) will admit to enjoying this arduous labour, where long hours are spent painstakingly laying the stones in a prostrated position. Low wages fail to attract apprentices.

Paved sidewalks also present hazards to pedestrians and unpleasant barriers to people with physical impairments. These pavements can be...
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