Stones of  Portugal

Stones of Portugal Episode-5

Sammy Chris

Travel through the Marbles’ of Portugal

Stone of the Portugal

The great source of Portuguese marbles

Stone extraction in Portugal is happening well from the Roman reins and that has played significant roles in the architectural heritage of the country. Monuments, Statues, Fountains, Places and other ancestral buildings are long-standing examples of Iberian Peninsula and all over the world. The great Portuguese source of the marble is a world famous geological area called the Extreme Anticline of Alentejo region. The pure white marble of Portugal is the result of the very pure metamorphism.

Luis Lopez and Ruben Martins of the department of Geosciences, university of Evora, Valor Pedra association and geophysics centre of Evora have combined for a research article about marbles from Portugal. 

The following is the abstract of their research material

For decades Estremoz marbles were the hallmark of Portuguese dimension stone. Economic constraints and lack of knowledge about the physical, chemical and mechanical prosperities of different prescribers created a notion that raises doubts about longevity. It is observed by the researchers that there is no depletion of raw material and almost every variety of marble has enough reserves to sustain a mining activity for several hundred years. 

Geology and mining heritage 

Despite its dimension, the country has mining units of ornamental rocks throughout. The north is rich in igneous rocks particularly granites. There are also considerable results of limestone breccias in the Algarve. Marbles are exploited in the province of Alentejo, southern Portugal between Sousel and Alandroal.

It is well known that marbles have been quarried since antiquity as a valuable geological resource. The oldest evidence of this dates back to 370 BC. Later in the Roman period, marbles were widely used as structural and decorative features of buildings that today are fabulous architectural monuments, for example, the Roman temple in Evora, the Roman theatre in Merida Spain. In the Middle Ages marble was used for the construction of palaces, castles, and other buildings. The 15th century witnessed these marbles move more prominently for usage, both nationally and internationally. They were transported by Portuguese explorers to Africa, India and Brazil. In the following centuries, these marbles were demanded ornamental purposes and they appear with various polychromatic associations in several national and international monuments. With the introduction of new manufacturing technologies, especially in the 70s of the 20th century and with the opening of the Portuguese economy to the world, the marble industry stepped forward and since then marble has been exported worldwide. 

The marble of the Estremoz Anticline is a very small part of its reserves and only 30% of its marbles are explored. It is roughly said that marble mining will happen in these reserves for another 550 years.

Business Associations

Stones of  Portugal

For many years the companies that developed their activities in Estremoz, Borba and Vila Vicosa were characterized by family structures with unskilled human resources, guided by intuitive 

Methods of management. Later on, as the economy opened its gate to the international domain, companies gradually came to organize themselves, investing in qualified personnel, in technological development in professional training, with a greater sensibility to environmental issues and in a more aggressive marketing strategy.

Nowadays witnessing the importance of the ornamental rocks sector in the Portuguese economy the giver has recognized the association, “Cluster da Pedra Natural” and following this, “Associacao Valor Pedra”. The mission is to implement initiatives for innovation, qualification, and modernization of companies of the sector and develop the cooperation between enterprises, business associations, technology centers and I & D institutions, training centers, and other entities of the sector contributing to the dynamization of technology transfer process to increase productivity, competitiveness and innovation in different economic activities. 

If we talk about Marbles of Portugal the name that tops the list is Rosa Portuguese. It is a pink marble which is almost an identity for its other varieties across the world. For many years this marble is most exported and of course the most known all over the world. Despite the status, the world does not know much about it. There is a general comment that it is not very uniform but professionals who work with this material are of a rather valuable different viewpoint: Each slab or tile is distinct from the others but the final result of a flooring, for example, is spectacular. In terms of geology, Rosa Portuguese is a limestone that is 400 million years old. 

The varieties of Rosa Portuguese

The varieties are not merely defined by the names. Here they vary with the factors (clean and veins). The varieties that look clean have a pink background and they have almost no veins but this is the least available one. Slabs with some veins: the background is pink again and the veins are of brown, green, or bluish-black. This is the variety that comes out of most of the quarries. 

Slabs with veins with the same pink background these slabs have more veins of brown, green, or bluish-black.

Different names of the material

There are a large number of names to describe each variety. The following are some of them: 

·        Estremoz clear and Pink

·        Rosa Borba

·        Rosa Aurora 

·        Rosa Portugal 

·        Rosa Venado 

·        Rosa Lagoa 

·        Rosa Salmao 

·        Rosa Crema Vigaria

·        Rosa Monte

·        Rosa Paradis 

·        Calacatta Rosa

·        Rosa El-rei etc.

These above slabs are available in blocks, slabs, and tiles as well with finishes that are 

·        Polished

·        Acid

·        Bush hammered

·        Sanded

·        Honed

·        Aged

Saudi Arabia is the biggest market for Rosa varieties. 

Countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are joined in the list. Rosa Portuguese is an interior, exterior decoration, and sculpture material.