Arraiolos – Famous for its Wool Carpets:
Arraiolos is famous for its wool carpets and tapestries which have been woven here since the 16th century. Arraiolos carpets (Tapetes de Arraiolos) have decorated palaces and manor houses in Portugal for centuries and it is believed that the craft may have been introduced by the Moors.
Generations of embroiderers have preserved the Arraiolos carpet tradition and there are many tales and legends surrounding the Tapetes de Arraiolos, including one of a bride who showed up for her wedding covered with a rug. As the story goes, there was a young damsel who was engaged at the time when there was ongoing wars between the Christians and the Moors. As the village was attacked, her betrothed had to leave for combat. It was a long time before the groom returned and grieving at the loss of youth it took him a long time to resurface. When the bride eventually showed up for the wedding, she covered herself with a rug to hide the marks of time.
Arraiolos – A Carpet Town
Walking down the main thoroughfare, it is obvious that Arraiolos is a carpet town. Low-rise white buildings, with huge ‘tapetes de arraiolos‘ signs plastered on them, house many of the carpet galleries and workshops. There are a couple dozen carpet producers where visitors can admire and buy these Arraiolos carpets.
Arraiolos Carpet Design Styles
The hand-embroidered carpets are sewn in wool on a canvas frame. They originally followed Persian and Indian designs but more modern designs became popular from the 18th century. Arraiolos carpet design styles can be divided into three distinct periods in the 18th century.
- the first period was based on compositions that portrayed the decorative influences of Persian carpets (these are considered to be amongst some of the finest examples)
- the second period included popularly inspired designs, such as figures or animals; and
- the third period at the end of the eighteenth century and continuing into the nineteenth century featured less dense and much more stylised patterns
Walking around town one can see the range of designs produced. In one shop of the shops we got to see a newly produced floral carpet is being treated.
For anyone interested in Arraiolos tapestries, the Arraiolos Town Hall has a collection of tapestries and creations by Dórdio Gomes, a local painter.
Priced in Euros, the carpets are not cheap and furthermore it is not something that you can easily carry away with you, unless you have a car.
Accommodation in Arraiolos
If you are driving in the region and want to make Arraiolos your base, the Casa Do Platano is in Arraiolos town. Other accommodation in the nearby Arraiolos valley include the Pousada Arraiolos and the agritourism hotel Herdade Da Amendoeira.
Map of Arraiolos: