Cobbled sidewalks appeared in Portugal around 1500, but the Portuguese cobbled sidewalks known as "calçada à portuguesa" began to appear in the mid-19th century. The sidewalks of that era in white and black limestone were characterized by the irregular shape of their stones. Since the mid-20th century, Portuguese sidewalks have been called "calçada portuguesa" and are created using stone cubes arranged diagonally.
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Calçada portuguesa, or Portuguese cobblestone pavement, is a unique and authentic art form of small hand cut limestone and basalt stones assembled one-by-one in beautifully intricate patterns and scenes found everywhere in Portugal and abroad, in its former colonies and in other European countries.
Would you believe that the history of "calçada portuguesa" involves a white rhinoceros named Ganga? It was a gift from Afonso de Albuquerque, the founder of the Portuguese Empire in the Orient and Governor of Portuguese India to King Manuel I for his birthday.
The Portuguese Heritage Society of California brought over two skilled "calçeteiros" from Terceira to "calçar" our museum plaza. When their time was running out, they trained some of our own board members in the art of "calçada portuguesa" so that they could finish the project.
Ernesto Matos, in his travels around the world, has captured disconnected images and has built a near exhaustive inventory of his fondness for carpeting the ground with small stones in two colors.
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