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12/16/08

Portuguese Calçada 
Art in Cobblestones

Portuguese Calçadas - Art in CobblestonesOne of the endearing hallmarks of Portugal's streets is their decorated pavements. Limestone is hewn into tiny blocks creating beautiful patterned compositions, traditional and modern designs, street numbers, and business logos. Other designs show armillary spheres, caravels and vessels, crosses, stars, and animals. It all started in 1849 after the completion of the wave design known as "the wide sea" in Lisbon's Rossio Square. By the end of that year, the pavements of the Chiado district and Avenida da Liberdade were also completed. Eventually most of Lisbon's streets were paved this way, and it spread throughout the country. These pavement designs are also seen in Portugal's former colonies, with the "wide sea" design seen in Rio de Janeiro's famous beaches, and even in one of Macau's main squares.

The artform was also used in New York's Central Park's tribute to John Lennon, and in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in New Jersey.

Modern examples can be seen in Lisbon's Parque das Nações, with images of "sea monsters" and more wave designs. Today the "Portuguese pavements" are still made by hand, and are part of the country's heritage and identity, continuing to decorate the streets and squares all over Portugal.

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