Wool: a living patrimony

"The wool, a vehicle of cultures, can be found in man’s history in all the crossroads of civilisations, protected him from the rain and the snow, the cold of the mountain, the torrid heat of the plain and the transhumance paths dust.

In spite of the contemporary scientific research advances, no synthetic fibre has managed, until today, to copy the resistance, beauty and comfort of the natural wool. For all that, the culture involving the wool is a living patrimony that is important to safeguard in its environmental, anthropological and cultural context.
In the Iberian Península, the sheperds and the flocks of merinos, from very ancient times, crossed bridges and rivers, climbed mountains, went through vast plains looking for green pastures, making borders disappear. They created the Lusitânia and approach men in the interior and bordering upon territories that involve Portuguese Central raia, which integrates the district of Guarda and Castelo-Branco and the District of Tajo-Salor-Almonte, of the Spanish Extremadura.
The history of the region is inevitably linked to a rich space of diversities and favourable to the self-subsistence that, tested since the first colonizers, was guaranteed by the cattle-raising and agriculture activities, hunting, fishing in rivers and streams, provision of wood and the opening of the mercantile activity. The mountain, Serra da Estrela, giving the cattle natural pastures, has been the meeting point of great transhumance paths both national and peninsular, allowing to some population clusters in this area the specialisation in the wool manufacture, through the easy access to this industry raw-material: the wool as well as the essential energy for its development, from the use of water and wood that were prodigiously offered. That way, it has, generically, contributed to detach a region, as it is described by Gonçalo da Cunha Villas Boas in the 17th century: near Serra da Estrela, where everything is wool and cloths, where some work and the others trade.

We look for the marks built in the landscapes and we invite you to come with us in the historical path that links Serra da Estrela to the natural richness of waved plains of the Spanish Extremadura, from two museums that are the beginning and the end of the Wool Route – TRANSLANA: the Museo Vostell-Malpartida de Malpartida de Cáceres and the Wool Museum of Covilhã. This route revitalises in the 21st century, the wool traders’ path that in the 19th supplied themselves with wool in Lavadero de Lanas de los Barruecos (now Museo Vostell-Malpartida) to guarantee the regular working of several factories in Covilhã, from which we point out the Royal Veiga Factory (now Wool Museum)."

In Fios da Rota da Lã [Desdobrável/Roteiro], 2005