Estremoz Marbles


Borboa quarry, folding and shear patterns

Local native name

Mármore de Estremoz

Year designation



Marble, calcitic with accessories of quartz, dolomite, muscovite, chlorite, graphite ("Ruivina") and others


Marble, calcitic with accessories of quartz, dolomite, muscovite, chlorite, graphite ("Ruivina") and others

Geological settings

Paleozoic – Cambrian to Ordovician (?); Estremoz Anticline within the Iberian Variscan Belt


Estremoz – Borba – Vila Vicosa (“Marble Triangle”), district Évora

Borboa quarry, folding and shear patterns

A Portuguese known brand in the world since ancient times

The name came from the nearest and bigger city of the quarries (Estremoz), where, in the beginning of the XX Century, the modern age exploitation of marbles as dimension stone has acquired enough importance to constitute itself as a pole of local development and simultaneously begin to be exported. Nowadays, 90% of the quarries are in the SW limb of the Estremoz Anticline, Vila Viçosa municipality. The oldest evidence of use of these marbles dates to the year of 370 BC. The archaeological find of a tombstone, ordered by the Carthaginian captain Maarbal during a trip from Faro to Elvas, was discovered by Father Espanca in Terena (Alandroal).
In the 1st century AD, during the Roman Period, systematic quarrying in the Estremoz anticline began. In the 20th century, with the introduction of new exploitation and manufacturing technologies and especially in the 70’s with the opening up of the Portuguese economy, the marble industry took a step forward and, since then, marble has been exported worldwide.
For centuries the marbles were widely used as structural and decorative features of buildings that today are important architectural monuments, e.g., the Roman Temple in Évora, the Roman Theatre in Mérida (Spain), etc. In the Middle Ages, marbles were used for the construction of palaces, castles and other buildings. From the 15th Century the marbles began to have a more prominent use, both nationally and internationally, having been transported by Portuguese explorers to Africa, India, Macau and Brazil. During the next few centuries, the marbles were used for ornamental purposes and they appear inlaid with various polychromatic materials in several national and international /UNESCO World Cultural Heritage monuments such as the Jerónimos Monastery (Portugal); Escorial Monastery (Spain); several monuments in Rome (Italy); Louvre, Notre Dame and Versailles (France).

Paco Ducal, Vila Vicosa, Portugal

University of Evora cloisters, Portugal

Luis Lopes