“The best museum in the country” - Portuguese Association of Museums
In a city renowned for its work ethic, some of the major monuments of Covilhã relate to the history of Portuguese industry. The Wool Museum of the Beira Interior University is composed of three centres. The first occupies part of the Royal Cloth Factory established by the Marquis of Pombal and includes the famous boilers from the 18th century. The Veiga Royal Factory, which was built later, is another of the major centres of the museum, and the third includes the open-air Râmolas de Sol (racks used to dry cloth in the sun) in various places in the city.
Now in the 21st century, there still exists in Donfins (S. Pedro do Jermelo – Guarda) a craftsman who makes scissors for shearing sheep. This tool marks the very start of the wool production process.
Maria Celeste Marques, João Clara, Joaquim Sabugueiro
These are some of the craftsmen who still work wool by hand in the Serra da Estrela mountains. Wool has been worked this way for centuries, and not even industrialization has managed to eliminate these methods completely. Maria Celeste Marques, in Covilhã, and João Clara and Joaquim Sabugueiro, in Manteigas, produce woolen shawls, carpets and rugs in the same way as their ancestors did centuries ago.
THE GREAT MANUFACTURING HOUSE OF COVILHÃ (1679)
In 1678 the 3rd Count of Ericeira, Luís de Meneses, wrote in a letter: “I can assure you that it seems that God wishes for manufacturing houses to be established in this Kingdom… The perfection of the baizes and serges from Covilhã has reached a high point, and our Portuguese Masters are now so independent of the English that all is made by their own hands.”