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Monday, January 30th, 2012

Traditional honey coloured Tosca stone from Javea

Montañar with Tosca stone Walk through the streets of the atmospheric and traditional old town of Javea located on the Spanish east coast, an hour or so north from Alicante, and you will notice a certain honey-gold glow to the buildings in this region. This is particularly noticeable in the late summer afternoons when the setting sun bathes this region in a rich golden light that has been loved by painters and photographers for years. Yet, even on those rare days when the skies are grey and dark, it is the traditional Tosca stone that creates a softening and pleasant touch of warmth to the Baroque charm of Javea. This glow looks truly sophisticated and breathtaking.

Whilst traditional buildings throughout most of Spain are a combination of elegant white plaster and Mediterranean terracotta roof tiles, Javea properties have an added touch of style and luxury due to the Tosca Piedra, as it is known locally. This porous sandstone with its soft, malleable structure and rich, pleasant honey colour is a perfect material for elegant buildings, whether it is in exquisitely sculpted detail or by attractively cladding this stone with white-plastered walls and wooden shutters.

This precious, originally calcareous stone was formed in sand dunes over a hundred thousand years ago and has been locally hewn for many centuries, right up to the 1970’s, until recent environmental protection legislations prohibited the quarrying of all Tosca stone. Since this period, many architects have had to use synthetic alternatives which, whilst perfectly useful and appealing, can never create the same outlook and quality standards as the original Tosca material.

Xabia centre with Tosca stone buildingsFrom a distance Tosca stone looks very fine-textured, but come up close and you will see that the stone is porous in texture and rough if you run your hand over it. With a close examination you can just about observe the remains of fossilised sea creatures that locates this stone to coastal areas throughout Spain, Italy and Brazil. This stone is truly unique and peerless as it is only found in a few locations worldwide, with the historical Javea quarry among the most essential as it has existed even before the Roman times.

Just like Javea‘s very own Carrara marble, Tosca was extracted with great difficulty as it had to be hewn from the undercut of a huge cliff that was directly facing the sea. Visit this area today and you can still observe the indentations and pick-holes by the last of countless generations of quarry workers that laboured in this very dangerous yet stunning area. Without these brave workers, Javea could not have produced a material that makes this town by far the prettiest of all Spanish towns.

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