Art Beneath Your Feet

A city where it is impossible not to look at what is beneath your feet is Lisbon, Portugal. The endless intricate patterns of the cream and black cobbles automatically draw your eyes down. Known as  calçada (Portuguese Pavements) some, like the wave pattern above and below in Praca Dom Pedro IV Square (Rossio), can even interfere with your balance and make people look as though they are floating above the pavement.

This is where it all started, Rossio Square, given the wave patterns in 1849.

In Belém coloured marble is used with the flat cobbles to create patterns and pictures including a map of the world depicting the voyages that Portuguese explorers made during the Age of Discovery.

Arco da Rua Agusta
Arco da Rua Agusta

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I live in the UK, but when I was younger I spent several years travelling the world followed by a period living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

55 thoughts on “Art Beneath Your Feet”

    1. The Portuguese pavements and their tiles are so beautiful. A pity we don’t create squares like these instead of boring tarmac or maybe brick.

    1. I found myself feeling decidedly queasy, especially when I got down low to capture the waves. We didn’t hang around on that square for too long!

    1. There have been times when I have wanted to jump on Easyjet […frowns :?] Oh, wait a minute YOU mean jump on a plane to go there! I think we went by TAP or BA from Manchester. Good flight and not too long either. But don’t buy a G&T at the airport – shockingly expensive!

  1. These are beautiful. I didn’t know about these pavements, but now I want to go there! I love the one in Bairro Alto and the way it fits the space perfectly, showing such care in the design.

      1. I’d taken an introductory Portuguese course in summer school in New York the previous year, and the follow-up trip to Portugal was to take Portuguese-language classes for foreigners. With that much in my background, even though it was half a century ago, I never forget the basics.

        Yes, Lisbon was fun. At age 21 I think I would have enjoyed any foreign destination, but Lisbon was a great place to start.

        1. Portuguese is not the easiest of European languages to learn. On hearing it I thought is sounded quite Slavic, though written it is more like Spanish.

        2. I had the same impression. During my first day or two in the introductory course the teacher sounded to me like he was speaking a Slavic language, but then things clicked and I began to hear a Romance language. Brazilian Portuguese, by the way, sounds quite different, not at all Slavic, because it doesn’t have all the sh and zh sounds that are so prominent in Portugal.

  2. Jude this may be one of my favorite posts ever from you. We loved Lisbon and it has continued to stay high on our list of top cities In the world. We did not have the blog at the time of our visit and really weren’t into photography too much. We were also at the end of a very arduous cycling trip in Spain so I think we just walked about in a bit of a daze. At any rate when I look back I regret not having captured the wonderful stonework in more detail. It made me smile ear to ear to see your fabulous variety of images.

  3. I adored Lisbon. (Of course, we’d just come from Fes so landing somewhere clean and quiet where you didn’t get hassled every minute of the day may have had something to do with my instant love.) The cobblestones are beautiful but murder on your feet.

    1. Thanks Roberto. I imagine it can be done in many Portuguese places, though thinking back to Mozambique in the ’70s I don’t recall any there.

  4. This was fascinating … you’re right, it would be difficult to focus on something other than the ground! That wavy pattern is amazing … it creates this illusion that the ground isn’t flat! Cool post 🙂

    1. The ground didn’t feel flat either! When I got up from my knees after taking the shot (not easy I can tell you) I felt distinctly sick. It’s not so bad walking on it as you don’t see the waves as being quite as undulating.

  5. I guess we need to go back. The stolen purse incident put a real dampener on our last visit but I still have things to see. I’ve got a real yen for the Azores too, and there’s no shortage of these tiles there either. Come to think of it, Madeira had oodles too. 🙂 Great shots, Jude! I love the rooftop one.

    1. Have you been to Madeira? There is a lady who has a stall on the market here who visits every January to avoid winter. I must admit I am tempted. Never looked at the Azores.

      1. Madeira is stunningly beautiful, Jude. I spent my 60th there. The flowers are fabulous but, of course, there’s a bit of rain to go with 🙂 The Azores have rather a short ‘season’ but budget flights now operate there from Portugal. I’m scheming 🙂

        1. When is their rainy season then? And where did you stay? I think the market lady stays in a hotel in Funchal as they do good winter breaks.

    1. I have a pair of sunglasses that do that, I loathe them for going down steps. The wave pattern was more noticeable as I crouched down to take the photo, but at proper height is’s not too bad!

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