Introducing Cooperativa Terra Chã
10 March 2021 | By Rio Maior Municipality
Image | Cooperativa Terra Chã -Caving experience
Written by Atlantic CultureScape Project Partner, Rio Maior Municipality
The Portuguese group, Cooperativa Terra Chã, have been developing cultural and tourism activities for nearly 20 years. The history of “Terra Chã” goes back to 1984, when the rehearsals of dancing and singing became the main activity of a group of around twenty people.
Cooperativa Terra Chã is based in the municipality of Rio Maior, within the Natural Park of Serras d’Aire e Candeeiros.
In 1987 the group carried out research and found craft weaving to be a part of the intangible cultural heritage of the area. In a move to reintroduce and safeguard weaving, looms were purchased and placed in the weaving workshops operating at the old Forest Services facilities. The framing and training were provided by a weaver from a neighbouring village and the works produced followed the traditional line of Serra dos Candeeiros (blankets and rugs). Visitors can now take part in Craft Weaving Workshops at the Cooperative.
In the 1990s, the group’s activities had already gone beyond the scope of a folk group. At that time, the need to build its own headquarters was felt. The meetings, exchanges, and training activities, as well as the knowledge of other realities, caused the need for further space to house activities. In 1996 the construction of the Cultural Centre of Chãos (C.C.C.) began and, in 1999, the Cooperative “Terra Chã” was created for local development, handicrafts and services.
The construction process of the Centro Cultural de Chãos allowed the opening to other activities such as caving, educational activities, goat shepherding, beekeeping and traditional games.
Currently, “Terra Chã” has taken over the management of the Cultural Centre of Chãos, which includes the Accommodation Centre; a restaurant that uses local products in the preparation of its dishes, the Weaving Centre, Alcobertas Cave tours and a range of activities that value the cultural and natural heritage of the Serra dos Candeeiros region.
Cooperativa Terra Chã is part of the Atlantic CultureScape ICH Tourism Cluster in Rio Maior Municipality.