Such Beauty Beneath Your Feet

Almost all the streets and sidewalks in Portugal are made of cobblestone.  

Cobblestones littered with cigarette butts because it seems everyone in Portugal smokes

In many areas the stone pathways are plain and pedestrian like the ones in the picture above……but others called calçada Portuguesa are true works of art done by workers called calceteiros who painstakingly make mosaics with the small stones. Apparently the practice is in jeopardy because the calceteiros do not earn high wages and must work long hours so fewer and fewer young people are interested in learning the craft as apprentices.  This unique kind of cobblestone art is thought to have originated in Mesopotamia and was brought to Portugal by the Romans who occupied the country during the 3rd and 4th centuries.

Many of the patterns like these waves have some kind of reference to the sea because Portugal’s economy was once so closely tied to ocean exploration and the fishing industry

The cobblestones are more expensive than ordinary pavement to install, are very slippery when wet and wear out more easily. Many accidents are caused each year by people who stumble and trip because of loose or missing cobblestones. The cobblestones are also much harder to traverse in high heels, with a stroller or wheelchair, or as we found out, your luggage on wheels.  Although some say the cobblestones should all be replaced there is a move afoot to have them protected by asking them to be granted UNESCO classification as a world heritage item.  Hopefully a way will be found to make these cobblestones safer without destroying them because they are truly a thing of beauty. I have my eye out for them everywhere we go in Portugal and have not yet grown tired of recording new patterns with my camera. 

Other posts………

Seeing the Movie The Post in Lisbon

A Fascinating Conversation in a Little Wine Shop in Lisbon

Lisbon by Design

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Filed under Art, Portugal

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