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.


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29 Responses

  1. sylviakirk says:

    I was amazed by the “street art” in Lisbon! So beautiful and so are your captures, Indrani!! Thank you as always for sharing the beauty!! I hope you have a great new week!!

  2. Meera says:

    Interesting patterns.. Surely they have a style in making their city admirable.

  3. Cloudia says:

    Mediterranean design; very fine

    ALOHA, Friend; Thrilled to be back!


  4. Bibi says:

    They are beautiful.

  5. Andrea says:

    OMG, i can imagine its dangers! Yes they are beautiful but maybe they really are counting their days, let’s hope some will remain in designated open museum areas. I remember the parks in Sweden, Strasbourg and Copenhagen are also paved with cobblestones not friendly to unrubberized soles. I was so curious with those the first time i saw it.

  6. Rajesh says:

    Interesting patterns for pavement tiles.

  7. Isn’t it beautiful. It makes the city even more appealing to visitors

  8. Gunilla says:

    The patterns are gorgeous!

  9. They look gorgeous and efforts must be made to preserve them…

  10. Arun says:

    Beautiful tiles design… Slippery floors are a cause of concern

  11. Think of all the pains people took to create such an aesthetically appealing path. But honestly for me that girl was the highlight of the post!

  12. Kishor Kr says:

    Nice patterns…Sure looks like the Roman Art

  13. Tara Nair says:

    Gosh! This is intricate and painstaking. And it also is a design inspiration right on my lap. Lovely captures Indrani!

  14. Bhavani says:

    Beautiful patterns!!!

  15. Arun says:

    The tile patterns are really unique and nice..!

  16. Yogi saraswat says:

    Interesting patterns for pavement tiles. I am with you in this journey of Portugal and noticed that they made a lovely and interesting art on their homes , in streets . Really they are creator and make something new .

  17. Wow! These look so pretty!

  18. Quite intriguing patterns! 🙂

  19. Chaitali says:

    Lovely and you are so blessed to get to view the varied culture.

  20. Wow! They look so wonderful. Great pictures 🙂

  21. Kalpana says:

    My goodness – these are stunning. Glad you thought of photographing them.

  22. It’s wonderful! The intricacies of the mosaic of broken tiles! One wonders at the efforts it may have taken for these masterpieces!

    Best of all, I loved the expression of the little girl! Oh-so-cute! 😀

  23. Hema says:

    What lovely patterns! It so sad that this is a dwindling art!

  24. seema says:

    Hi Indrani,

    Wonderful post. It’s great that you got an opportunity to witness this art work. I’ve seen the Portugal works in Goa and their works are tremendous. Portugal will have lots and lots of such works. Lovely. Thanks for sharing your experience Indrani.

  25. ilakshee says:

    Beautiful and an eye opener!

  26. That’s awesome. too good.

  27. Beautiful. You find a lot of these in Panjim…

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