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Crato became an important town in Portugal's history when the Order of the Hospitallers received from King Sancho II, in 1232, vast territories in the Higher Alentejo region.

By 1350, after the battle of Salado, the Order's headquarters were established there and Crato gained prestige and prosperity. However, in 1662, an invading Spanish army sacked and burned the town, which never recovered its past eminence.

An avenue of orange trees leads to the Mother Church, dating from the 13th century but much altered since then, and now exhibiting 18th-century tiles with fishing, hunting and travelling scenes.

The ancient Hospitallers' Castle is in ruins; at the town's center, the Varanda do Grão-Prior (a balcony from the 15th century) rises as the last symbol of the former and imposing Grand Prior's Palace.

Less than two kilometres to the north of Crato, the grand monastery and chuch of Flor da Rosa was built in 1356 by the Grand Prior of Crato. It has been restored and now houses an elegant pousada.

The village of Flor da Rosa is also known for its clay pottery, which is characterized for being extremely resistant when used to cook, and for keeping the water always fresh when used for objects such as mugs, barrels, bowls and pitchers.

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