Portuguese Pavement Tile Patterns

While I was on walking tours along the streets of Lisbon one thing that caught my attention was the pavement tile patterns. The sidewalks were full of designs which are hard to ignore. How much ever I would admire the sights around, in the end my eyes would look down to rest the unique designs. They are there everywhere in Lisbon and other old cities of Portugal.

Unique Pavement Tile Patterns

Pavement tile patterns are believed to have originated from the periods of ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Portuguese have acquired this (I couldn’t find the exact origin of this in Portugal). Portuguese workers are very talented in these kinds of creations. Countries like Gibraltar have sought their expertise for designed pavements.

pavement tile patterns


Pavement laying is a very elaborate procedure. First the stones are sorted, shaped and prepared. Small flat pieces are selected. They are then manually placed as per the designs on a bedding of gravel. Finally cement mix is spread between them to firmly fix them in place. This has been going on for years and Portuguese pavement workers are true artists. Lot of skill is required for the entire execution. Sadly this is now a dying art!

This curious little girl peeped in wondering what I was clicking on the ground.

Lisboners’ Woe

Not many people are interested in learning this art. While the pavement patterns add to the beauty of the streets the high cost and low longevity are the negative factors. Add to that, they acquire a glassy slippery surface when wet. Unfortunately this has caused several accidents. The local aging residents are demanding the pavement tile patterns all be covered with cement.

I read this: Lisbon’s municipal government surveyed 200 Lisboners’ age 55 and over in 2010 and found that half had fallen while walking on the sidewalks. More than 90% said they were afraid of falling.

Residents are hesitant to venture out during rainy day. I didn’t encounter any slippery patch thankfully and took a lot of pics. Walking shoes are better and heels are a strict no for these streets. All these are from Lisbon. I have pics from other cities too. These are too beautiful. Wiping away one of the iconic symbol of the city, these “Pavement Tile Patterns” isn’t going to be easy!

Imagine rolling down one of these series of steps. There are many such steps in the city.


Discoveries Monument, Lisbon
Lisbon’s Colorful Tiles - Azulejos

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