The building

The Shoe Museum was born in the former building of the OLIVA company.

A pillar of Portuguese metal and machinery manufacturing, this company was part of the life of thousands of workers who, since 1925, helped build an unparalleled History that will forever be associated with the OLIVA sewing machines.

Founded by António José Pinto de Oliveira, for over 80 years the company produced agricultural implements, portable forges, equipment for the hat industry, plumbing pipes, cast iron cookers, irons, flushes, presses for “bagaço”, radiators and heaters, industrial laundry equipment, workbench vices, tubs and collective basins, low capacity combustion engines, among many other products.

Focusing on employee training, good wages, an efficient use of labour and modern technology, the systematisation of the workplace and the adoption of a bold marketing and advertising plan, OLIVA was always in the same league as the most dynamic European companies.

In our collective imaginary there will always be the hundreds of OLIVA shops all over the country, the big neon signs at the top of the main buildings in towns and cities, cutting and sewing courses, the “Calico Dresses” national competition, the annual “Miss Oliva” pageant, as well as the iconic films “A Costureirinha da Sé” and “Sonhar é Fácil”, sponsored by the company.

For this reason, OLIVA is an important cultural heritage of our country, a place of remembrance and identity that the city didn’t want to lose and which, in time, reinvented itself and was reborn with new roles and uses, trying to honour a relevant past not only in our local history but also in the country’s industrial history.