The area that today corresponds to the territorial delimitation of the municipality of Redondo has been inhabited since remote times, as evidenced by the numerous megalithic monuments existing in the region. The area of the village itself had its prehistoric antecedent in an important fortified occupation of the 3rd millennium BC, recognized in the top of São Pedro, demonstrating the strategic location of the village since then.
Confirming the richness of the soils and the flat or rolling orography, the municipality of Redondo also experienced a relevant Roman occupation, reinforced by the proximity to the Roman city of Évora.
According to legend, the foundation of the town is related to a round rock that existed inside the early medieval castle.
Its administrative formation was due to D. Dinis, who had it fortified and granted it with rights and privileges that king Manuel I confirmed and added new privileges by the Foral de Leitura Nova in 1517.
If the ceramic production has been known in the municipal territory since the beginning of the Neolithic period, and has remained throughout the millennia, being more expressive in Roman times, it gains new dynamic with the foundation of the town, being pottery and potter’s clearly mentioned in the rights and dues established in 1517.
At the beginning of the 15tth century the town of Redondo, was practically uninhabited, so, the request of the town’s prosecutors king João I, in 1418, imposed the obligation to pass through the town for all those who travelled from Évora to Vila Viçosa and Alandroal, a measure that proved to be quite effective when the village grew out of the castle walls in the middle of that century.
At the end of the 15th century, the Torre de Menagem was built, as symbol of the village’s new vigor, and still today one of its icons and a major element of its heritage.
Heritage of the crown, the town of Redondo was donated, in 1500, to the captain and hero of Arzila, Vasco Coutinho, who received it from King Manuel I, given by letter of 2-6-1500.
The following centuries, mainly the 17th and 18th, are characterized by a strong urban expansion, which consolidates what is still the nucleus of the town of Redondo today. A fundamental landmark of this is the transfer of the Municipality from the medieval castle to the current City Hall, in the middle of the 18th century, which was built in “Rocio Largo” following a project of the famous Pombaline engineer Manuel da Maia.
In those times, although the pottery production and tradition was present, it lost relevance to the large textile production that occupied the majority of the local active population.
The 19th century, due to the troubled conditions of the country itself, reflects a slowdown in the growth of the village. However, the construction of a theater in the City Hall square in the 1830s, reflects a culturally distinct and active village.
At the end of this century, with the development of the culture of the vineyard, a new moment of growth appears, which will enter the first decades of the 20th century, despite the occasional instabilities, such as the implantation of the Republic.
The decline of textile production and the emergence of wine production will be accompanied by a new impetus for pottery production, where Redondo will establish itself as one of the most important pottery centers in Alentejo. The second half 19th century and the beginning of the next will see the emergence of the great pottery tradition of Redondo with a strong decorative identity, rooted in a distant past.
The vineyard and pottery production will become the two pillars of the identity and economy of Redondo during the 20th century, clearly extending to the present day.
It will be mainly during the democratic period that the village will notice a new process of growth and renovation, which we still live…
António José Rega Matos Recto
Mayor of Redondo
The village of Redondo, located in the heart of Central Alentejo, in the south of Portugal, is a land that is over 700 years old, most of that time always connected to clay and pottery, thanks to the “good ground” that allows to cook earthenware with excellent refractory properties. It is this same “ground” that gave us and gives us another richness, wine, which was closely linked to the production of Redondo´s pottery.
With a long history, and a cultural heritage with a strong identity, as can be seen by the simple strolling through its white streets that descend from the Castle hill, Redondo pottery has passed through the centuries for several periods where it has always known how to reinvent itself without forget it´s long tradition. More than 100 years ago, one of those important transformations took place that brought us to date a very characteristic tableware, in particular for its polychrome decoration, with simple, floral, geometric or abstract motifs in a unique combination that reinforced its relevance as a one of the main pottery centers in Alentejo.
Over time, and the modernity that today has brought us, pottery has been going through multiple difficulties, without ever losing its Identity, which from the Municipality, and without forgetting the living forces around our pottery tradition, was made to maintain. And our Clay Museum, opened in 2009, was undoubtedly a first step towards maintaining this pottery identity and recognizing the importance of the activity for the economy of Redondo.
The integration in APTCVC is one more step in our commitment to promote pottery in Portugal and abroad.
However, we know that much remains to be done to maintain the artisanal pottery of Redondo, which is why we are taking the first steps towards its valorization and recognition at national level as a heritage to protect and promote, through its classification as National Intangible Heritage.~
Certainly the pottery of Redondo will know how to reinvent itself again without losing its identity…
António José Rega Matos Recto
Mayor of Redondo