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Urban Art in Covilhã

Mural de arte urbana de andorinhas estilizadas em tons de azul e castanho pelo artista Pantónio na lateral de um edifício alto e esguio na Rua Comendador Campos Melo no centro da Covilhã com vista ao longe dos arredores da cidade e céu azul
Pantónio - Wool Festival 2015 | Photo: Wool

Visiting Covilhã without noticing the Urban Art is almost impossible these days, but what is the story behind this artistic movement that "invaded" the city?

Walking through the historical centre of Covilhã you quickly get the feeling that around every corner there's an artistic intervention to discover. The arts, both small and large, are so integrated in the city's urban fabric that it is easy to forget the recent past, where grey colours and degraded walls predominated.

Mural de arte urbana da artista Tamara Alves que retrata uma mulher com 3 braços a tecer o seu prórpio fio, alusiva aos lanifícios da cidade da Covilhã, numa parede junto ao Miradouro das Portas do Sol com 4 pessoas a conviver no miradouro
Tamara Alves - Wool Festival 2014 | Photo: Catarina Diniz

The lively colours that mark the Historical Centre of Covilhã are largely the responsibility of two siblings from Covilhã, Lara and Pedro Seixo Rodrigues, who, during a holiday in the south of Spain, fell in love with the graffiti they found there.

Later, with the growth of the Urban Art movement in Portugal and influenced by international festivals such as FAME FESTIVAL or NUART, they decided to adapt the concept to their hometown.

That's how in 2011 WOOL was born, the oldest urban art festival in Portugal! It emerged with the goal of requalifying the historic area of the city, but grew far beyond that, with interventions in various places.

Mural de arte urbana na lateral de um prédio no centro histórico da Covilhã com corpos entrelaçados retratados em negativo, sendo apenas possível ver a pintura final invertendo as cores da fotografia parte do festival de arte urbana WOOL
Bosoletti - Wool Festival 2017 | Photo: Wool

From playing with words like Wool and Wall, the name in English was chosen in order to facilitate the internationalisation of the festival. Even though the name is in a foreign language, there is a commitment that all the art represent themes linked to the region, the city and the history of the once "Manchester of Portugal".

The annual festival, which has already become a brand image for the city, boasts more than 40 interventions by artists of various nationalities, with names such as Vhils, Bordalo II, Halfstudio, Bosoletti, Kruella D'Enfer, +MaisMenos+, Samina, Pantónio and others.

Mural de arte urbana Halfstudio em tons de azul e rosa com a frase cidade flor em ti mora o meu amor festival arte urbana covilhã wool
Halfstudio - Wool Festival 2017 | Photo: Wool

Gradually, the rundown historic centre took on a new life. The deserted streets filled up with people following the Urban Art route in search of another mural to see and photograph. Almost 10 years after the first mural, it is safe to say that Pedro and Lara Seixo Rodrigues' goal was accomplished! WOOL is today one of the biggest attractions of Covilhã, projecting the city in the international panorama, making news worldwide, boosting tourism and the urban requalification of the historical centre.

The impact of WOOL is such that it goes beyond "its borders", inspiring other independent interventions, like the mural in support of the national football team created by AkaCorleone for the Portuguese Football Federation, or the several murals of the company Casas Covilhã and other small interventions.

Vista aéra de mural de arte urbana fachadas de igrejas e edifícios da covilhã com 2 estudantes trajados a olhar para eles
Daniela Guerreiro - Casas Covilhã and AAUBI | Photo: Cláudio Gonçalves

The best thing is to see for yourself. Visit Covilhã, come and discover a city with over 800 years of history, which is, among many other things, an open-air museum of Urban Art!

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