Black pottery Bisalhães

Bisalhães’ black pottery and regional cuisine on display at Expo this week


The black pottery of Bisalhães and the regional cuisine of northern Portugal will be featured this week at the Portugal Pavilion, from 14-16 October, representing the country’s unique cultural heritage.


The event will be celebrating one of the main traditions of the North of Portugal, Bisalhães’ black pottery, which is part of UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, while showcasing Portuguese cuisine with a fine dining experience, prepared by Michelin-star chef, Vitor Matos.


This is the result of a joint initiative between Porto and North Portugal Tourism Board (TPNP), the municipality of Vila Real and the Portuguese Trade & Investment Agency (AICEP).


“We fight a lot to preserve and promote our cultural heritage, namely the Bisalhães pottery. Expo 2020 Dubai is a global showcase, which will gather millions of visitors, who will discover Portugal, the North, Vila Real, Bisalhães and the wonders that are yet to be found there”, said the mayor of Vila Real, Rui Santos, in a statement released earlier today.


In turn, Luís Pedro Martins, president of TPNP, stressed that everything was done “so as not to miss this opportunity to promote the region and its assets in this great event, certainly the biggest one of 2021 and one of the most important in the world, the first of this scale to take place in the post-pandemic period”.


On 29 November 2016, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) inscribed the manufacturing process of Bisalhães’ black pottery on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.


The traditional and demanding craft of Bisalhães’ pottery has been passed down through family generations of potters in Vila Real, people who proudly identify themselves as artisans. From the hand preparation of the clay to the cooking of each piece in an open fire oven and its carefully designed carvings, every stage that the clay undergoes to become these beautiful, unique pieces is an art of its own. The earthy elements in the clay such as broom, pine needles, heather and gorse are what give the pottery pieces its smoky, black appearance, and traditionally, the women in the family would take on the role of decorating the black pottery for the finishing touches.


By taking this tradition to Expo Dubai 2020, the goal is to “promote the value of the territory where Bisalhães black pottery is created and sold, to highlight a differentiating asset, not only from that region, but also the country, as well as to preserve its continuity in time”.


Visitors will also experience some of northern Portugal’s rich gastronomy, cooked and served in this traditional pottery, with an array of fresh wholesome starters, mains involving a resemblance of octopus escabeche, grouper and roasted kid, and a traditional homemade custard.


With the aim of captivating new audiences, the organizers have also released an e-book – “TRAZ, ZAS, TAZ! Let’s see how the Potter does it!” – which explains the origins of Bisalhães’ black pottery. It is available in English, Portuguese and Arabic.


“At Expo 2020 Dubai, we intend to show the best our country has to offer. Bisalhães’ black pottery is a true Portuguese symbol, it combines tradition with innovation and promotes the image of a surprising Portugal, full of talent and diversity”, said Francisca Guedes de Oliveira, Deputy Commissioner General of Portugal at Expo 2020 Dubai.




For more information, make sure to visit the event website: