A city’s look and feel is more than its skyline. It’s the sum of many parts—from the trees that line public parks to the shops along local streets, and even the sidewalks under our feet. And while sidewalks are often easily overlooked, they can have a surprising impact on city life. In many ways, they’re where a city’s residents connect with the built environment, step by step.
Perhaps nowhere in the world provides a better example of spectacular sidewalks than Lisbon, Portugal, where the city’s sidewalks and roadways are not paved with concrete or asphalt, but instead with Portuguese pavement.
In Lisbon, sidewalks are more than infrastructure—they’re public art. Throughout the city are mosaics made from black and white pavers. The stones, 3 inched on each side, are hand-carved from durable basalt and limestone blocks that are individually placed by skilled craftsmen and secured with cement. The result is a sidewalk that practically glistens.
Although Lisbon is best know for these sidewalks, they are also featured in cities around the world, including Brazil and Macau. Many of the promenades along Rio de Janeiro’s beaches are famously paved with mosaic stones. And similar stones line São Paulo’s Paulista Avenue.
Here are some of the most stunning examples of Portuguese pavement from around the world.