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Rossio square pavementing. World wide fashion.

Updated on May 25, 2020
Sandra Miliers profile image

Sandra was born in Toronto, came to Europe for university and ended up travelling and working the world. Portugal is one of her favourites.

Rossio square with its purple jockrand trees.
Rossio square with its purple jockrand trees.

Rossio Square, Lisbon.

If you have been to Lisbon, Portugal, you have without a doubt seen or been to the Rossio square. Today, it is the main square of the city, the connection point, and if you go there mid- or end of May, the jockrand, or jakaranda trees will be coloring the square purple.

On the square you can see two fountains, incredibly elaborated (they were imported from France), the big statue of Peter IV, and at the very end, the theater of Dona Maria II, an old queen of Portugal.

Another thing that people often not really notice, are the "waves" of black and white that are all over the square. They actually have a story to tell, a story that not many people know of.

Three names.

The official name of the square is Praça Pedro IV. Peter IV is an old king of Portugal, I actually wrote an article about him and the statue and how it came about before.

But what you might not know, is that it also has two more, inofficial names, Rossio, which is the name the local people gave the square, and "square of the waves".

Look down.

But where are the waves? You might say now. Or does it have anything to do with the tsunami of 1755?

Nope, nothing to do with the tsunami. To get the answer, all you need to do is look down. The whole square is pavemented in black and white with what looks like waves. But how did this come about?

Prisonwork.

Well, at the beginning of the 1800's, Lisbon (and most of Portugal it seems like) had alot of black stones and a lot of white stones, and alot of prisoners. What we do now?, said the government. Well let the prisoners pay their dues by pavementing the square.

The prisoners "got to work" and pavemented the square of Rossio, and now the waves had appeard. However what they had not counted on, was the tri dimensional aspect of the waves of the pavementing.

The black and white "waves" on the pavement of Rossio square.
The black and white "waves" on the pavement of Rossio square.

Amazement.

People saw the tri dimensional waves, and were completely amazed, they had never seen anything like this in their lives. This now became the new fashion in the city. The local government decided that because of people's amazement, every single square was now going to be remodelled into this black and white wavy formation.

Slowly, one by one, the squares now got this new pavementing. And the amazement grew even bigger and bigger. Now we have no square left to pavement in the city, said the local government one day, what do we do now? Well we can pavement the rest of the city as well, said the other politicians.

Now every little sidewalk, every little road, terrace, whatever you can think of, got remodelled in black and white, however, not with the waves, that was reserved to the squares.

Moving further.

Now we have no more space to pavement in the city, said the government, what do we do now? Well, then let's pavement the other cities as well, said the politicians.

Said and done, now all the other cities in the country were pavemented, from Braga and Porto in the north, to Evora inland. Even the small fishing villages of Algarve got this pavementing.

But that was still not enough. What do we do now? Said the politicians. Well, let's pavement the islands as well. No slowing down, now the islands of Açores and Madeira became pavemented in black and white waves.

Faro also got remodelled in black and white.
Faro also got remodelled in black and white.

To the colonies.

So, now, we have nowhere more to pavement in the country, what do we do now? Well, let's pavement the colonies as well!

If you go to Brasil, you can see this type of pavementing on the ground in the major cities. You can go to Angola or Mozambique in Africa, and you can see black and white pavementing on the ground, you are also supposed to be able to see this as far away as Macao, but I have never been to Asia, so in reality, I couldn't tell you if it is true or not. What I can tell you, is that it started right here, on the Rossio square, and it spread all over the world.

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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      14 months ago from UK

      This reminds me a little of the central square in Vila Real de St Antonio. Lisbon is a lovely capital city. I enjoy reading your articles about it and hope to return one day.

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