Mission Impossible: Ask a Portuguese To Make a Boring Pavement

Like the azuleijos, a calçada portugesa is a  skill unique to the Portuguese. Who else is crazy enough to embark on big-scale projects, such as covering inside and outside of churches, or city squares, using 15×15 cm tiles and black and white stones hardly bigger than mosaic pieces? The scale distortion intermingles humility with a sense of grandeur.

These arts may seem purely decorative, when actually there is pure architectural genius in the use of the space. Below are some symmetrical, figurative, decorative and informative examples of this versatile industry. Either elaborate or pretty simple designs, but equally impacting. Also included, more ancient carved stone pavements and a modern courtyard, which I found confusing. But what else do you want from life than being positively surprised?

I hope that’s enough to justify a trip to the country and its less famous towns. Don’t wait for too long, though. Today I won’t let beauty being spoiled by reality, so I won’t comment on safety considerations resulting in unique artworks being removed from the city centres of Porto, Lisboa or São Paulo, and will end saying VIVA A CALÇADA!









Pictures taken in Braga, Amarante, Guimarães, Aveiro, Lisbon and Setúbal.