After referring to the nobility and antiquity of Arraiolos, as well as some historical aspects regarding its origin, Cunha Rivara, a historian from the town, states the following in his work “Memórias da Vila de Arraiolos”, or “Memories from the Village of Arraiolos”:
– “… in any case, I am sure that there was already a settlement on the site of Arraiolos at the beginning of the 13th century…”
It is also certain that the abundance of evidence related to the late Neolithic or even the Chalcolithic are a sign of significant human occupation from the fourth millennium BC and it is likely that “in protohistory, the most advantageous inhabited site would correspond to the current elevation where Arraiolos Castle now stands”.
In 1217 with the granting of royal documents of Arraiolos by King Afonso II, to Bishop Soeiro of Évora and to the chapter of the Cathedral of same city, a new chapter of our history begins.
Arraiolos received its 1st Foral Document from King Dinis, and it was the same monarch who had ordered the construction of the Castle, and on 26 December 1305, the Council, represented by João Anes and Martim Fernandes, awarded the contract for its construction alongside the King.
Arraiolos was the county of Nuno Álvares Pereira – the 2nd count of Arraiolos – from the year 1387. Before retreating to the Carmo Convent in Lisbon, the Constable of the kingdom remained here for long periods of his life.
In 1511, Arraiolos received a New Foral Document from King Manuel.
There were many changes in its territory over the years, having defined administrative limits from 1736 onwards, however, these boundaries have undergone several changes:
– Inclusion in the district of Évora (1835); Annexation of the municipality of Vimieiro (1855); Annexation of the municipality of Mora (1895); Detachment of the municipality of Mora (1898).
Here in Arraiolos, the “land of rugs”, over the centuries of its history, generation after generation of embroiderers have hand-embroidered the beauty of its most authentic craft: “The Arraiolos Rug”.
The earliest known written reference to date is found in the inventory of Catarina Rodrigues, the wife of João Lourenço, a farmer and resident of the Bolelos estate, in the territory of Arraiolos, where, by the year 1598, the existence of “a new Têra rug valued at two thousand Reis” is described.
Alongside the richness of its landscape, the municipality has a vast built heritage that the Town Council of Arraiolos has sought to preserve and enhance.