From all the European cultural itineraries and due to an historical and touristic significance, a route is stressed that spans both the economical path of wool as a raw-material and the touristic path of the wool industrial patrimony. In the Iberian Peninsula and Portugal, this route crosses Beira Interior region, by Covilhã, that is considered the centre of the woollen cloths national production, and left in the region innumerable traces since the 12th century up to the present.

In the Wool Route – TRANSLANA, TRANSLANA Project, through the historical path that links Serra da Estrela to a natural richness of the waving plains of the Spanish Extremadura, we search the wool marks printed in the landscape and in the men’s culture that live in this border territory, anchored by two museums that are the beginning and the end of a route that is recognisable all along the paths that were defined in the landscape and identified as Wool Route-TRANSLANA: the Museo Vostell de Malpartida de Cáceres and the Wool Museum of UBI, in Covilhã. In the 19th Century, this route revitalises the wool traders’ path that walked on it, from the 17th century up to the beginning of the 20th century. Leaving from the Lavadero de Lanas de Malpartida, whose building is now included in the Museo Vostell, the wool was conducted to Covilhã in order to guarantee the regular working of several factories. From all the factories, we must focus on a company named Royal Veiga Factory, due to its industrial significance. Nowadays, this building is the Wool Museum headquarters.

In PINHEIRO, Elisa Calado – Da lã aos lanifícios – No princípio é a lã...a cultura pastoril. 2006. p. 15

The Wool Route and its contribution

The current development of practices and politics related to cultural tourism has contributed to define and disclose a diverse set of cultural routes, wherein the Wool Route has been acquiring shape and profile. In 1987, the European council launched a programme regarding cultural routes with touristic purposes, namely the improvement of the Europeans’ leisure time quality, inviting them to go through and explore the “real or imaginary tracks in which, through unity and diversity, the European identity has been forged”, a statement defended by Michel Thomas-Penette, Councilor of the Cultural Routes Programme of the Council of Europe (Universitat de Barcelona, 1996).

This question has relied upon a diversified set of aims related to tourism dynamization, but it increasingly seeks to re-establish the continuities lost in various European spaces in the course of time, aiming furthermore to stress the value of natural products and craftwork. Among several works published since 1987, the Guide of Cultural Routes of the Regions of Europe emerges, where the Centre Region of Portugal is characterised through an entry entitled “The Skein Yarn”. There, the value of a Wool Route definition is emphasised, clarifying the privileged geographical location of Covilhã at a national level.

(Fernando Lozano Hernando, Guia dos Itinerários Culturais das Regiões da Europa, 1ª Ed., Barcelona, 1992).

As stressed by Doudou Diène, UNESCO Councillor, the importance of these Routes also lies in the fact that they were planned as mechanism of contact between people and civilisations, coming to the conclusion that “the history and the culture of each people are the result of a double dynamic process: process of meetings, contacts and influences, yet also a process through which these contacts and influences result in the construction of a specific identity, thanks to a complex alchemy”. (Espanã y Portugal en las Rutas de la Seda, Publicaciones de la Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, 1996). However, in a time characterised by the intensification of communications systems and pratices, the routes are today mainly the cultural routes of “citizens of the world” uprooted from their natural and environmental matrix, nevertheless searching the lost threads of an identity that is urgent to preserve. Here lies the interest of this subject and the present thorough study by the cultural and tourism industries.

See Wool Route Map »

See Transumancy Map »