The vast Campo da Feira houses Barcelos’ market every Thursday from dawn onwards – it’s been held here since at least the early fifteenth century and, save a few modern refinements, there’s still much that a medieval market-trader might recognize. Today the Feira may have its own Facebook page, but the close-set rows of modest smallholders offering up their surplus produce have surely changed little over the centuries. Beyond the fruit and veg, eggs, olives, herbs, cheeses, cured meats, breads and pastries there’s the supporting framework of an entire rural economy on display here, from agricultural implements and animal yokes to chainsaws and wine-making gear – not to mention piles of cheap clothes, big pants, €10 jeans, counterfeit sportswear, lengths of cloth, brassy Portuguese pop CDs and rustic crafts. The local terracotta, white and yellow pottery – the louças de Barcelos – is a big deal, while Barcelos backs up its self-appointed role as “Capital do Artesanato” with a full array of other crafts, from earthenware figurines to traditional basketwork. The market is, in short, as valid a reason to visit Barcelos as you could want – if you can, stay the night before and make a real trip of it, then set your alarm clock for dawn and mingle with the stallholders as they set up for another timeless day at the feira.
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