In Portugal, you are sure to walk on a mosaic carpet paved with black and white stones. This architectural solution is called Calçada Portuguesa.

Good Portugal will take you on a historical tour of the origins of Portuguese sidewalks.

Praça do Rossio

In the 15th century, during the reign of King Manuel I of Portugal, many geographic discoveries and advances in various sciences were made. It was also about making significant progress in biodiversity. During this period, countries exchanged different products: fabrics, jewels, plants, and animals.

By then, the king owned a collection of animals from Africa and Asia. It included elephants, lions, antelopes, primates, and several birds. Some offerings were made by the government of India to the viceroy of Portugal, among which was the Indian rhinoceros Ganga. The rhinoceros was further presented to the king. Manuel, I liked this heavy and majestic animal so much that he began organizing processions with the rhinoceros to celebrate his birthday, where he displayed his wealth. But the 2-ton animal smeared mud all over the streets and its paws.

The king ordered the situation remedied by paving the streets with granite stones from Porto. The first paved street was Rua Nova dos Mercadores. In the future, due to the difficulty of transporting heavy granite, it will be replaced by black and white limestone and basalt.

The new beginning of paving streets in Portugal has the 19th century. In 1842, the governor of Castelo de São Jorge, Lieutenant General Eusebio Pineiro Furtado, an engineer and an expert in Roman building methods, ordered that Castelo de São Jorge Square be paved with white limestone and black basalt stones. The workers were prisoners. They created an enormous zig-zag carpet on the square, which impressed all the citizens of Lisbon. The square has not survived to this day due to the reconstruction of the Castle in the 1940s.

Praça dos Restauradores

The art of decorating public space became popular throughout the country and was exported to the Portuguese colonies of the time. Schools were later established to train paving masters. The profession of paving is called Calceteiro. In Lisbon in 2006, sculptor Sergio Stichini created the Monumento ao Calceteiro, which today stands on Praça dos Restauradores, next to the Avenida Palace Hotel.

Monumento ao Calceteiro


After the original installation of the monument on Rua da Vitoria Street, it was vandalized and moved. It is an ensemble of two paving figures at work creating a drawing in the shape of a sailing ship from São Vicente, the symbol of Lisbon.

Limestone and basalt extracted from quarries are used for paving. The stone is cut into irregularly shaped rectangles of 5 by 7 cm and 9 by 11 cm. The stone is laid in a decorative pattern or mosaic with a contrast of different colors. The traditional colors are black and white, although brown and red, blue, gray, and yellow are also popular. Before laying the ground is cleaned, pour a dry layer of base, on which the stone is placed, after tamped and covered with limestone crumbs.

Master pavers use picks that fit the stones to each other, repeating the pattern on the template. Today you can find ways in the form of geometric shapes, inscriptions, portraits, and floral and nautical motifs.

Calçada Portuguesa has become a hallmark of Portugal. However, it has some disadvantages – it challenges the balance of pedestrians with slippery pavement and is the enemy of high heels. The Portuguese sidewalk is a UNESCO heritage site.