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…
David Manuel Fialho Galego
Mayor of Redondo
Pottery is an art that is part of Redondo’s DNA. From the traditional utilitarian crockery to more or less artistically crafted ornamental dishes, from the roughest sculpture to the latest trend in which design is the protagonist, the work with clay has been part of our culture for several centuries.
But not only the final product had and still has a socio-economic importance in our municipality. From the Potter to the muleteer, many professions (some of them already extinct) depended directly or indirectly on Clay.
The Municipality of Redondo, more than perpetuating all this memory with its Museum of Clay, has the ambition of definitively designing Redondo’s Pottery, and the characteristics that make it UNIQUE among its peers, at a national and international level.
For all this, and because we believe in synergies and networking, we feel obliged to be an active member of the Portuguese Association of Ceramic Cities and Villages, so that we can not only disclose our Pottery and clay, but also to absorb and learn about other traditions in other regions, so that all our know-how can be founded on the new cultural, productive and socio-economic trends that new technologies allow and that new generations demand.
In the certainty that we will always learn more than we can teach, you can always count on the Municipality of Redondo and its “Gentes do Barro” (clay people) to ensure that this Art remains alive in the memory and habits of future generations.
David Manuel Fialho Galego
Mayor of Redondo