Arraiolos: Travel and tourism

Historic quarter
Historic quarter
Founded in about 300 BC, the town of Arraiolos grew around the summit of a hill and spread down the slopes, with typical low whitewashed houses with a blue trim.

The town is crowned by the 14th-century castle and the great 16th-century Saviour's Church, surrounded by massive fortified walls.

It is also worth admiring the marble pillory, the Miserichord Church with 18th-century decorated tiles or Chafariz dos Almocreves, a typical rural fountain which supplied drinking water to both the population and animals and was also used as a public washing-tub in the back.

Near Arraiolos, the village of Santana do Campo was built over the ruins of an ancient Roman town and the remains of a cross-shaped Roman temple can still be seen at the Parish Church.

Another village, Vimieiro, exhibits a fine Mother Church with battlements and also the former palace of the Counts of Vimeiro, dating from the 18th century, with beautiful gardens and an obelisk.

But Arraiolos is famed, and deservedly so, for its dazzling wool carpets which decorate palaces, manors and houses all over Portugal. Women stitching at colourful wool rugs, sitting in front of their houses when the weather is good or by the window in small rooms during Winter, are an usual sight, thus giving continuity to a craft which probably begun with the Moors as early as the 12th century and reached its maximum splendour with the floral designs of the 18th century.

The local Town Hall exhibits a rich variety of carpets from different periods so that visitors may admire the intricate and colourful designs.

It is also a task of patience, as even an expert needlewoman requires about 15 days, working a full eight hours, to embroider little more than one square metre, so it isn't surprising that the authentic hand-made Arraiolos carpets and tapestries are quite expensive.
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Pousada de Nossa Senhora da Assunção Pousada de Nossa Senhora da Assunção
Arraiolos
Settled in a valley near Arraiolos, a village famous worldwide for its hand made carpets, it is the result of the restoration of a 16th century monastery, an example of the perfect harmony between the traditional and the modern concepts of Portuguese architecture.

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