From Bricks to Flooring—A Brief History of Travertine

House made from travertine materialsFor many homeowners, travertine flooring is a sign of luxury. A form of limestone quarried from hot springs, it is known for its innate toughness. While expensive, anyone who installs travertine flooring in a building generally never has to replace them again.

But how did humanity come about this durable material and how did it become a symbol of opulence? As this brief history shows, travertine is not the average construction material; it has actually played a vital role in building civilization.

The Foundation of Ancient Civilization

One of the reasons why travertine is considered a luxury good is not scarcity, as this material is easily found around the globe. Rather, it is its use in many important historical landmarks.

The first earliest use of travertine was in the First Egyptian Dynasty in 3200 BC. Its use also extended to Europe, with tombs in the ancient Etruscan city of Vulci—north of Rome, Italy—carved entirely out of travertine. And the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hierapolis-Pamukkale in Turkey, which is home to an ancient Roman city, also boasts of naturally-formed travertine terraces from its hot springs.

The name “travertine” also gets its name from around this region; the name literally means “Tibur stone,” the original name of Tivoli, Italy.

And in these ancient times, this form of limestone was quarried as entire bricks, not the tiles commonly used today. For example, the ancient outer wall of the Colosseum in Rome used over 100,000 cubic meters of travertine stone held together by iron clamps. Interestingly enough, the Romans used travertine as a more affordable substitute to marble; not the luxury item it is today.

Contemporary Use

Of course, a material as durable and as commonly found as this, commonly found in notable structures, continues to be used in newer structures, as well.

One notable structure is the Basilique du Sacre Cour, one of the most-visited landmarks in Paris (second only to the Eiffel Tower). Built from 1870 to 1914, this impressive white basilica is made out of Château-Landon stone, a form of travertine.

Another is the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California. It is one of the few modern buildings made entirely out of travertine, with 1.2 million square feet of the material imported straight from the Bagni di Tivoli quarry in Italy. This extends from the walls to the floors.

It is also used as an accent in different buildings. Chicago’s Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), the tallest building in the world when it was inaugurated in 1974, had polished travertine walls in its lobby. The Lincoln Center in New York, built from 1962 to 68 and home to the Julliard School, also boasts of travertine walls.

Now, this prized material can be installed as flooring for homes located across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in Texas. Simply contact Fine Floors by Ed White for a free in-home design consultation. Call us at 888-802-6371 for an estimate.