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James Martin

Why You Should Buy Burel for Christmas

By December 5, 2012

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serra da estrela mountains picture
Ah, it's Christmas time! Commerce has become the thing to do at Christmas time, of course. You like holding that sleek iThingey in your hands after you've unwrapped it, no?

Perhaps you'd like something not so sleek, not so modern. Something handmade. Something with a good story behind it.

Enter Burel. You don't know what that is? Well, it's a course woolen fabric of the kind that used to be produced by shepherds in the mountains of Portugal, like the Serra da Estrela shown above. Burel eventually became a a local commercial product, especially in the Serra da Estrela mountain town of Manteigas. But demand died out. People wanted sleek.

But when the owner of Casa das Penhas Douradas decided to modernize his spa hotel, he didn't just send his workers off to never-never land to live on the government's dime while waiting out the restoration like we do in the United States, he sent them to work at the Burel factory, where they might discover a way to make the traditional wool, too, modern again.

And they did. Casa das Penhas Douradas is now a showcase for burel and everybody is back at work. And the factory once again purrs away, churning out a vast array of new products. And now, if you didn't want to go up to the mountains to find this revitalized wool being used in innovative ways, you can find it in Lisbon, at the Burel Shop in the Chiado District.

And...The Burel Factory has a great website, in case you can't get to Portugal before Christmas.

More: Penhas Douradas: Getting High in Portugal.

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