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"Calçada" - The Portuguese Pavement Art
The most usual paving stones colour range:
Stone Pavement as Art
Stone pavement is an art with a long history. Romans are the most well known for this kind of pavement, both inside and outside buildings, with intricate, beautiful and colorful designs. In Portugal, Romans and Arabs, contributed to the development of such art.
One of the most important reasons for the creation of this kind of pavement was to prevent mud on the floor and streets, as the space between stones lets rainwater to be absorbed.
Other advantages were it's durability and how easy and cheap it was to repair them.
Portuguese pavement is a decorative art present on most of the sidewalks around the country and its former colonies.
In 1842, military commander Eusebius Furtado ordered inmates in the Castelo de São Jorge, a Lisbon prison at the time, to cover its courtyard with a zig-zag tile pattern. The design used on that floor was a simple layout, but at the time, the work was somewhat unusual, and drove chroniclers to write about it, attracting so much attention it becomes the subject of one of the world’s earliest photographs by Louis Daguerre.
Seven years later, Furtado was given a commission to pave the whole area of Rossio Square, in Lisbon center, with a wavy pattern known as “the wide sea”. After this, the use of calçadas was made mandatory for all new paving projects in the Portuguese capital.
The cobblestone quickly spread throughout the country and the colonies and Portuguese masters were asked to perform and teach these works abroad, creating authentic masterpieces in pedestrian areas.
Until early XX century, the designs were made by the craftsmen themselves, the "calceteiros", that were inspired by traditional motifs like Armillary spheres, ships, compass roses, ropes, crosses, crowns, crests, emblems, ocean waves, seaweed, starfish, anchors, stylized animals as crabs, dolphins and birds. In the fifties changed and designs began to be made by architects and artists.
The mosaics require backbreaking labor to maintain, making the traditional art of the calceteiros both rare and expensive. It's an arduous labour, where long hours are spent painstakingly laying the stones in a prostrated position.
On November 1986, the Lisbon City Council created the School of pavers in order to renew the actual crew of pavers and promoting the art of paving. Other cities around the country also initiated formation projects in order to train professional men and women, hoping to ensure the "survival" of cobblestone.
Number of workers progression in Lisbon
More than 400
Less than 30
Calceteiros School Foundation
112 workers trained at school
148 workers trained at school
190 workers trained at school
Portuguese Pavement in the History of Photography
Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (November 18, 1787 – July 10, 1851) was a French artist and chemist, recognized for his invention of the daguerreotype process of photography.
One of his pictures represents the first "Calçada Portuguesa" in Castelo de S. Jorge, 1842
Castelo de S. Jorge, 1842 by Louis Jaques Daguerre
Gallery of Portuguese PavementClick thumbnail to view full-size
Calceteiros - the stone mastersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Estimation of m2 of pavement with artistic designs made per day
4/5 cm stone units
8 m²/8 h
5/7 cm stone units
15 m²/8 h
9/11 cm stone units
20 m²/8 h
This novel depicts, in a striking and picturesque manner, the oppressions to which the poor people of Portugal were subjected by their lordly oppressors.
Outside of PortugalClick thumbnail to view full-size
- The Portuguese Pavements Handbook (PDF) english version - page 142
“The Portuguese Pavements Handbook”, aims to be a reference work in this area, containing elements since the exploitation of the raw material until the completion of countless art works now scattered all over the world.
Some interesting sites about the subject
- Portuguese Pavement - Lisbon’s Unique Street Tiles
Walk with us as we peek into the unique street tiles (the calçada portuguesa) in Lisbon, Portugal. Trust us, Portuguese pavement never looked so good.
- School Project about paving techniques
Very good photos about a paver master showing the paving technique to a school class.
- Portuguese pavement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A nice Wiki with good content and links for aditional content
- Louis Daguerre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Louis Daguerre recognized for his invention of the daguerreotype process of photography.
- Brazilian blog about Portuguese pavement in Brazil