Arraiolos is a charming town nestled in the hills of Portugal’s Alentejo region, located only 1 hour and 15 minutes from Lisbon. Driving through the open, rolling plains to Arraiolos makes for a great day trip for visitors who want to get out of the city and experience a traditional town in the country’s heartland.
The history of Arraiolos can be traced back to the 2nd C. BC, and the remains of the 14th C. castle and 16th C. church can still be visited today. But most visitors to Arraiolos come to visit the stores and workshops that sell the famous hand woven wool rugs that the town is best known for. The history of rug making in Arraiolos dates back to the 13th C., when it is believed that Moors introduced the craft of rug making to the local residents. The rugs continue to be completely hand made today by local women using a needlepoint stitch that is applied on a sturdy canvas. The original designs were inspired by traditional Persian rug designs, and over the years the styles have evolved to include figures and animals, as well as more contemporary designs. Don’t worry if you fall in love with one of the rugs, as local merchants can either fold the rug down to a manageable size, or ship it home to you to avoid the hassle of having to carry it back. For more information on the town, click here.
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