In the Middle Ages, the old town of Montemor-o-Novo appears at the top of a hill known as the monte maior (translated as the biggest hill), from which its name came to be due to its visibility and majestic prominence in the landscape. Recognized by the king D. Sebastião as a remarkable village, in 1563, Montemor-o-Novo had already known two royal charters from the king D. Sancho I (1203) and the king D. Manuel I (1503).

The town met its historical peak during the 15th and 16th centuries, and it is in this period that the pottery from Montemor-o-Novo knew its recognition. During and after the 16th century, the potters were in such a large number that they settled in an entire street just for them. A fact that made it known as the Rua dos Oleiros (Potter’s Street).

It is thanks to the testimony of writers and historians that we know of how magnificent was the clay from this region and how it was, at the time, greatly appreciated by the Portuguese Royal House.

The historian Duarte Nunes de Leão, in 1553, refers it in the book “Descrição do Reino de Portugal” as a “very fragrant clay, kneaded with small stones and with as many stones as clay”. This was a unique characteristic to this type of local pottery.

Although this tradition went into decay and there are no local potters working on this technique anymore, the Montemor-o-Novo pottery tradition remains alive with the activities of the Telheiro. Located at the hillside of the castle, with the association Oficinas do Convento, it produces traditional bricks, ornamental and constructive pottery, and welcomes several national and international artists in an art residency program.

The Oficinas da Cerâmica e da Terra were born with the requalification and restructuration of the Telheiro in March 2015, the inauguration of the Ceramics Research Center (installed on a former public washhouse) and of the laboratory of the Earth. These facilities made possible the development of new proposals in the area of training, research, construction and work with the community in the various fields of investigation related to ceramics.

Olímpio Manuel Vidigal Galvão

Olímpio Manuel Vidigal Galvão

Mayor of Montemor-o-Novo

Message from the Mayor of Montemor-o-Novo

Montemor-o-Novo was one of the municipalities that joined the founding group of the Associação Portuguesa de Vilas e Cidades Cerâmicas in 2018.

An association that defends the valorization of cultural identity and the preservation of collective memory is an asset to any municipality that is committed to culture and the preservation of its Cultural Heritage as a vehicle for integration and social cohesion.

Montemor-o-Novo has a long ceramic tradition that begins in the first Neolithic communities that inhabited our territory and left us, as the most striking testimonies, dolmens and other megalithic monuments, but also an important set of ritual ceramics associated with these monuments.

From that period to the present day, Montemor-o-Novo was the land of potters and clay potters, artisans who, from the ground, built the most varied objects for everyday use.

In the 16th century, the clays of Montemor were known throughout the country and even outside of it, due to the little pebbles that were incorporated into the clay and which gave the water a special flavor and freshness.

Archaeological excavations at the castle of Montemor and historical documentation confirm the importance of the pottery produced here and of its pottery community, which even gave its name to a street in the historic center of the city.

Although the tradition of producing ceramics of a utilitarian nature is extinct, Montemor-o-Novo is today recognized for the artistic and construction ceramics produced in Telheiro da Encosta do Castelo, in the Centro de Investigação Cerâmica and in the Laboratório de Terra and promoted by the Associação Oficinas do Convento, with the support of the Municipality of Montemor-o-Novo.

The Municipality of Montemor-o-Novo, as the main promoter and guardian of the material and immaterial heritage of the land and people of Montemor, intends to continue to defend and value this art of working the clay.

Olímpio Manuel Vidigal Galvão
Mayor of Montemor-o-Novo

APTCVC Representatives

Henrique José Lopes_Montemor-o-Novo

Vice President Henrique José Leocádio Lopes, Montemor-o-Novo

Vice President of the Supervisory Board