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"Calçada" - The Portuguese Pavement Art

Updated on December 22, 2016
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LisbonOs Calceteiros (1924) Vicente do Rgo Monteiro (1899-1970)Calceteiros de Lisboa (Lisbon Pavers) 1964 Manuel FigueiraJean Baptiste Debret  Brasil, XIX centuryLaura Chagas BrasilLes casseurs de pierre  Courbet Domingos Soares Branco
Lisbon
Lisbon
Os Calceteiros (1924) Vicente do Rgo Monteiro (1899-1970)
Os Calceteiros (1924) Vicente do Rgo Monteiro (1899-1970)
Calceteiros de Lisboa (Lisbon Pavers) 1964 Manuel Figueira
Calceteiros de Lisboa (Lisbon Pavers) 1964 Manuel Figueira
Jean Baptiste Debret  Brasil, XIX century
Jean Baptiste Debret Brasil, XIX century
Laura Chagas Brasil
Laura Chagas Brasil
Les casseurs de pierre  Courbet
Les casseurs de pierre Courbet
Domingos Soares Branco
Domingos Soares Branco
The most usual paving stones colour range:
Whitish limestones
Black limestones
Dark-grey limestones
Light-grey limestones
Pink limestones

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

 
 
1930
More than 400
1980
Less than 30
1986
Calceteiros School Foundation
2006
112 workers trained at school
2014
148 workers trained at school
2016
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

Castelo de S. Jorge, 1842
Castelo de S. Jorge, 1842

Gallery of Portuguese Pavement

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FaroLisboaLisboaLisboaHorta, Faial, AzoresalgarveLisbonAveiroLisboaPonta DelgadaPortuguese pavement, CoimbraCastelo BrancoPvoa de Varzim's runes LisboaPaving near Praa do Chiado, in LisboaLisboa: the Nau and the Two CrowsLisboaGuimaresLagosLisboaNazar
Faro
Faro
Lisboa
Lisboa
Lisboa
Lisboa
Lisboa
Lisboa
Horta, Faial, Azores
Horta, Faial, Azores
algarve
algarve
Lisbon
Lisbon
Aveiro
Aveiro
Lisboa
Lisboa
Ponta Delgada
Ponta Delgada
Portuguese pavement, Coimbra
Portuguese pavement, Coimbra
Castelo Branco
Castelo Branco
Pvoa de Varzim's runes
Pvoa de Varzim's runes
Lisboa
Lisboa
Paving near Praa do Chiado, in Lisboa
Paving near Praa do Chiado, in Lisboa
Lisboa: the Nau and the Two Crows
Lisboa: the Nau and the Two Crows
Lisboa
Lisboa
Guimares
Guimares
Lagos
Lagos
Lisboa
Lisboa
Nazar
Nazar

Calceteiros - the stone masters

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Estimation of m2 of pavement with artistic designs made per day

made with
per worker
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
Note: Prices range from € 90 to € 140 per square meter

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 Portugal

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Curitiba, Paran, BrasilAmparo, BrasilBrasliaIpanemaCopacabanaCopacabanaLaranjeiras, BrasilLondrina, BrasilRio de JaneiroSantos, BrasilPortuguese pavement next to Paulista Av., So PauloMacau, ChinaMacau, ChinaMacau, ChinaMacau, ChinaMacau, ChinaMacau, ChinaMacau, ChinaMacau, ChinaAngolaAngolaAngolaAngolaAngolaTenderloin National Forest San Francisco. CaliforniaRestaurant in Newark. New Jersey Prague, Czech RepublicPequin, China
Curitiba, Paran, Brasil
Curitiba, Paran, Brasil
Amparo, Brasil
Amparo, Brasil
Braslia
Braslia
Ipanema
Ipanema
Copacabana
Copacabana
Copacabana
Copacabana
Laranjeiras, Brasil
Laranjeiras, Brasil
Londrina, Brasil
Londrina, Brasil
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Santos, Brasil
Santos, Brasil
Portuguese pavement next to Paulista Av., So Paulo
Portuguese pavement next to Paulista Av., So Paulo
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Macau, China
Angola
Angola
Angola
Angola
Angola
Angola
Angola
Angola
Angola
Angola
Tenderloin National Forest San Francisco. California
Tenderloin National Forest San Francisco. California
Restaurant in Newark. New Jersey
Restaurant in Newark. New Jersey
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic
Pequin, China
Pequin, China
Source

Google Doodle

For the official Portugal Nacional Day in 2015, Google honored the calçada portuguesa with a doodle illustration by guest artist, Ana Ramírez.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Becky 

      6 years ago

      I love the symbol in the photo from Faro.. do you have any more details on where exactly it is or a larger photo showing the whole design?

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