Lioz—a Royal Stone in Portugal and a Monumental Stone in Colonial Brazil


Lioz is a Cretaceous, microcrystalline limestone which occurs in Portugal and outcrops in Lisbon and neighboring counties. The rock color is usually ivory and, less commonly, pink among others. Its fossiliferous content imprints a unique pattern to the rock, contributing to its decorative application. The rock has been used in Portugal as a good quality material for construction for a long period, from the sixteenth century to the present. Along the eighteenth century, its wide use in monuments and official buildings gave it the recognition as the “Royal Stone” in Portugal. Lisbon has the best display of lioz as a fundamental stone in several monuments of different ages, official buildings, and many churches. Among the latter, the Jesuit Church of São Roque is a special example, in which interior chapels expose a rich variety of inlays (embutidos), inspired on Italian churches. Not far from Lisbon, Mafra exhibits a monumental architectural set of three integrated constructions built in the eighteenth century by King D. João V using lioz limestone. Along the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the rock was carried to some Portuguese colonies, mainly as ballast of boats and used at the destinations as construction material. Salvador in Bahia, Brazil is the best example, where lioz is beautifully used in monuments and as true art in many churches of Portuguese and Italian influences. These facts make the Portuguese lioz as the most representative Heritage stone present in Portugal and its old colonies abroad.

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The data presented on this paper result from research on lioz limestone developed by the author in Portugal, Brazil, and Italy. Information obtained on most churches were useful in the construction of the historical use of lioz. The presentation of part of it at EGU 2017 was sponsored by GeoBioTec Research Center at Earth Sciences Department (DCT), Nova University (UNL), Portugal. Credit is given to JCKullberg for Fig. 1 and others and for adjusting photographs for this publication.

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Correspondence to Zenaide C. G. Silva.

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Silva, Z.C.G. Lioz—a Royal Stone in Portugal and a Monumental Stone in Colonial Brazil. Geoheritage 11, 165–175 (2019).

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  • Lioz limestone
  • Royal Stone
  • Heritage stone
  • Monumental
  • Portugal