Stone Discoveries: Rosa Aurora

Though naturally occurring stone deposits are one of nature’s most wondrous aesthetic phenomena, the Rosa Aurora quarry is in some respects, a work of humans. It bears deep, clearly visible layers of extraction, a result of over two-thousand years of quarrying. The inauguration of this practice was the culling of materials for the Roman circus of Emerita Augusta, a large, open-air venue for chariot racing in Mérida in western central Spain, then part of the Roman Empire.

I visited the quarry in December, during Portugal’s rainy season, and while there I observed great pools of red clay washing over the quarry face and down into the pit below. My guide informed me that this effect is responsible for the aesthetically pleasing quality of the exposed stone deposits, bearing distinctive brown and red streaks. It was then I realized that humans were in some part responsible for the beauty of the quarry. Having cut into the mountain, they exposed the stone to the elements.

Given that the controversial business of humankind’s interference with nature is, in essence, the same business that brings me here today—the procurement of marble—I cannot help but consider these things. As I have said: the outward beauty of the quarry itself, which I have made some effort to capture with photographs, is the result of a stunning collaboration between humans and nature. The structures and interiors created from the material produced in Estremoz, the home of the Rosa Aurora quarry in the Alentejo region of Portugal, are the product of a collaboration between humankind and nature: naturally occurring minerals procured, finished, cut, and integrated meaningfully into the work of decorative artists.

Tower of Belém

Tower of Belém

This was true of the Batalha Monastery in Leiria, Portugal, a gargantuan project which took 130 years to complete, the Jerónimos Monastery, in Belém, and the fortified Tower of Belém, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Lisbon. A masterpiece of the Portuguese late Gothic (or Manueline) style of architecture, it was commissioned by King John II in 1514, and served as a defense system for the Tagus river, that historic estuary whence emerged the maritime peregrinators of the storied Age of Discovery, the cauldron in which was forged the era of European globalization.

Portugal is one of the world’s largest exporters of marble, second only to Italy, and nearly ninety percent of Portuguese marble is procured from the quarries around Estremoz. For this reason, the towns outlying the quarries are veritable “cities of marble;” replete with marble doorsteps, pavement, and cobblestones. For over five hundred years, Rosa Aurora has traveled the world, as the Portuguese Navigators of the 15th and 16th centuries exported the material to Africa, India and Brazil. Today its most popular applications are interior, used in master bathrooms, as well as in countertops.

The natural stone currently on view at ABC represents only the finest rocks on Earth. Procured from 6 continents, ABC has truly moved mountains across oceans to bring the finest stone on Earth to the A&D community. We are honored to bring to you Rosa Aurora, from Portugal, which ranks among the most sought after marbles in the world.

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