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.
Mayor of Montemor-o-Novo
To promote and develop Culture and Heritage, as fundamental points for the improvement of the quality of life of the population, has always been, and will continue to be, a strategic objective of the Municipality of Montemor-o-Novo.
The promotion of our Culture is fundamental for those who live in Montemor-o-Novo and also for those who visit us and therefore we undertake all efforts to have a county increasingly known for its Culture and Heritage.
Montemor-o-Novo is a land of great tradition in pottery art since immemorial times, which has been proved through archaeological excavations that confirm the local existence of utilitarian ceramic workshops widely used in the municipality and out of it. As such, Montemor could not fail to cherish, from the very first moment, this project of the Portuguese Association of Cities and Villages of Ceramics, as our ceramics are also a symbol of our land, our tradition and our people.
Times have changed and we live in a time of industrialization and globalization, but the tradition of Montemor ceramics is not dead! We are very proud of the projects “Telheiro da Encosta do Castelo” or the Ceramics and Earth Workshops, projects developed by the Cultural Association Oficinas do Convento and with great support from the City Council. It is therefore only fair to say that in Montemor, ceramics is an art that is part of our DNA and that can be reinvented and remain here.
With the APTCVC, we will promote the defence, valorisation and dissemination of the cultural and historical ceramic heritage and we will work to praise its importance for the development of this Council, in partnership with all the associated cities and towns.
Mayor of Montemor-o-Novo