Estremoz Marble, a unique case

Designed by the stone pyramids that can be seen from far, the entrance to Estremoz, in Alentejo, causes curiosity and oddness to visitors approaching from the east. The rock residues accumulate and form blocks that impose themselves to the sight, in what is recognized as the oasis of the best marble in the world.

Noemia Guest House Hotel Estremoz Marble

The unique characteristics of the region’s subsoil offers a variety of marble shades, from the dirty whites and creams to the grey, blue and pinkish shades that have made them famous all over the world and which have placed them in the most emblematic buildings and monuments, such as the Roman Temple of Évora or the Mosque of Córdoba.

The marbles of the anticlinal structure of Estremoz, in Alentejo region, which represent about 90% of this rock that is extracted in Portugal, are known historically and internationally as “Marble of Estremoz” and have been used for over two thousand years, since the Roman and Islamic Age.

Although Vila Viçosa is the county that gathers the biggest quarries from which more than 80% of the Portuguese marble is extracted, it was the brand “Mármore de Estremoz” (Estremoz Marble) that became international, being recognized as Global Heritage Stone Resource by UNESCO.

With a dimension of about 40 km long and 15 km wide, the Anticlinal spreads across the municipalities of Borba, Estremoz and Vila Viçosa, also touching the municipalities of Alandroal and Sousel.

The “Marble Triangle” (Estremoz – Borba – Vila Viçosa), also called “Marble Zone” is considered a unique case!

It is a metamorphic rock originating from limestone. It can come in a variety of colors and textures. Therefore, it is highly used in the construction industry. But it goes beyond aesthetic issues since this rock presents very impressive characteristics, such as high durability, porosity, and resistance. In addition to construction, it is often used in interior decoration, design and sculpture.

Curious to know why?

  1. It is a geological structure recognized by all and not only by the specialists.
  2. It has a past of marble production of exceptional quality that goes back to the Roman Period.
  3. It was internationally recognized as “Global Heritage Stone Resource” award in January 2018 by the Executive Committee of the “International Union of Geological Sciences/UNESCO“.
  4. Due to the quality and extension of knowledge of the geological record, both on the surface and in depth, which represents 90 % of the Marble that is extracted in Portugal.
  5. For having a past of research projects that go beyond the quarry plans and several studies carried out by the companies and that constitutes an enormous database.

Facts & numbers:

👉In the Anticlinal of Estremoz there are about 200 quarries in activity
👉Most of these quarries are open pit
👉They range in depth from 15 to 50 metres; the deepest quarry reaches 110 meters.
👉Standing 27 meters high, the “Torre de Menagem” of Estremoz Castle is fully built with marble and still retains the traces of a medieval military structure. You can climb to the top and admire the 360º view over the region. The staircase is not too difficult. The most interesting thing is to climb to the terrace and the balconies.

The word comes from the Greek marmairein or Latin marmor and means stone of quality or white stone; for geologists, it is exclusively a crystalline and carbonate metamorphic rock, composed of calcite crystals (calcite marble), or dolomite (dolomitic marble), resulting from the recrystallisation of previously existing limestone or dolomitic rocks, mostly of sedimentary nature.” (Centro de Ciência Viva).

💡Learn with the experts at Centro de Ciência Viva de Estremoz.

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