Portuguese pavement (calçada portuguesa), is a traditional style pavement used for many pedestrian areas in Portugal.
This Portuguese cultural expression is a heritage of a mixed Roman and Arabic culture and construction technology, which has finally imposed itself in Portugal in the XIVth century during the reign of King John II.
Despite today the whole world recognizes and enjoys this art, the production of raw material is experiencing much kind of difficulties that may compromise its future in Portugal.
The originality of the Portuguese Pavements gives them a very special status in the pavement domain. It can be defined as “a paved floor whose components are of natural stone, mainly limestone, set on the soil and arranged in a more or less homogeneous manner”. It combines the characteristics of durability and aesthetic beauty to the economic advantage of using the originally applied stone in restorations when any need to perform ground works requires the
removal of the floor or in reconstructing the pavement when a substrate settlement occurs. It has proved to be ideal for being used in pedestrian areas, such as sidewalks, gardens, homes and shopping centers, and also in streets and squares with restricted vehicles circulation. Each Portuguese Pavement is unique not only because of the many designs used (geometric, figurative, depicting regional or local activities or specificity), but also because its final effect depends on the quality of stone production and mastery of the craftsman responsible for the settlement.
The most typical Portuguese Pavements are made with limestone and basalt or light-colored and black limestone units, generally of irregular shape, which can be used to make decorative patterns by the contrast between the different stone colors. Black and white are the more traditional colors, but beige-brown and pink-orange or reddish are also used.
The Portuguese Pavement, a genuine paving technique well rooted in the portuguese tradition, is a good example of how creativity can take advantage
of natural resources to generate economic activities of significant value.