Aveiro Tourist Attractions
About halfway between Oporto and Coimbra, the old port and fishing town of Aveiro is attractively situated on the east side of the Ria de Aveiro, a lagoon 47km/29mi long and up to 7km/4.5mi wide, well stocked with fish, with many branches and windings which earn it the local name of the pólipo aquático (sea polyp). Chief town of the district, Aveiro is the see of a bishop and one of Portugal's main west coast ports.
The people of Aveiro and the surrounding area live chiefly from the production of salt, obtained from the salt-pans on the shores of the Ria de Aveiro, the gathering of seaweed for use as a fertiliser, and the manufacture of porcelain and ceramics, an industry established here in the early 19th C. As well as being an attractive town, Aveiro has magnificent beaches in the vicinity and fine alluvial countryside along the Ria de Aveiro.HistoryIn Roman times the town, then known as Talabriga, lay directly on the sea. In the course of time, however, alluvium brought down by the Rio Vouga built up a spit of land off the coast, leaving only a narrow channel to the sea, the Barra. The town thus acquired one of the most sheltered harbors on the west coast of the peninsula, and enjoyed a period of high prosperity in the 15th and 16th C. as a result of the voyages of discovery which set out from here. The town still preserves many fine old buildings dating from this period.In 1575 a violent storm devastated the town and closed its outlet to the sea. The harbor was now landlocked and useless, and all attempts to reopen the passage to the sea were unsuccessful; the fishermen, deprived of their livelihood, migrated in the 18th C. to the new port of Vila Real de Santo António at the mouth of the Guadiana, founded by Pombal. A further storm in 1808 opened up the old channel to the sea, and this is now protected from silting-up by dikes and weirs. Aveiro harbor now ranks once again among the finest harbors in Portugal.TownscapeAveiro is often compared with Amsterdam or Venice, despite having only three canals, but the many medieval features it has managed to preserve do make it very attractive. This is due in no small measure to the barcos moliceiros and a canal trip on one of these boats shows Aveiro at its most appealing. On such a trip visitors can see some magnificent Art Nouveau buildings and house fronts decorated with beautiful azulejos (particularly attractive are the tiles in the railroad station).
An unusual harvest is gathered by the moliceiros of Aveiro, the seaweed-fishers with their characteristic boats, the barcos moliceiros; they fish up seaweed (moliço), used as a natural fertiliser, from the Ria de Aveiro.The moliceiros sail their wooden boats, with naïve pictures painted in bright colors on the high prow and stern, through the many branches of the estuary, gathering the seaweed with large rakes. When the shallow vessels have a full load the "crop" is landed or loaded into ox-carts in the shallows. The boats are up to 15m/50ft long and 2-2.2m/6-1/2-7ft wide. If there is sufficient wind a trapezoid sail is hoisted; otherwise the boats are propelled by long poles or towed along narrow channels by long cables.In recent times the number of boats has fallen from its original total of over a thousand to about thirty. The once busy and profitable trade of seaweed-gathering is now gradually dying out because of the increasing use of artificial fertilisers. As the demand for seaweed has fallen the moliceiros have begun to harvest wrack-grass (junco) which is dried and used as litter for livestock. The difficulty of making a living and the drift of young people to the towns, however, mean that few young men are now prepared to take up this ancient trade.During the Festa da Ria, held annually in the second half of July, the last of the moliceiros take part in a regatta, with contests of skill and a competition for the finest paintings on the boats.
Igreja da Misericórdia
Catedral de Sao Domingos
To the southeast of Igreja da Misericórdia is the Catedral de Sao Domingos, presented to the Dominicans by the Infante Dom Pedro and consecrated in 1464. It was much altered in the 18th century, and the Baroque porch on the granite facade dates from 1719. The Cathedral contains the tomb of Catarina de Atalíde (d. 1551), who was celebrated by Camoes in his sonnets under the name of Natércia. The verses were so passionate that in 1546 the poet was forced to flee from Lisbon. In front of the Cathedral is one of Portugal's finest calvaries, the Gothic Cruizeiro de Sao Domingos.
Museu de Aveiro
Opposite the Catedral de Sao Domingos in Aveiro is the former Dominican convent, the Convento de Jesús, which houses the Museu de Aveiro. The daughter of King Afonso V, Infante Joana, entered this convent in 1472 against her father's wishes. She died here in 1490 at the age of only 38 and was buried in the convent church. Her readiness to endure privation and her renunciation of all privileges won her many admirers, and she is now much revered as the town's patron saint.The Museu de Aveiro was installed in the church, cloisters and other convent buildings in 1911. It provides an excellent and almost complete survey of Portuguese Baroque art, as well as showing pictures of the 15th to 18th centuries, sculpture and archeological material. The most important exhibits include a portrait of St Joana (15th century) which is attributed to Nuno Gonçalves. In the vestibule of the church, which is richly decorated with talha dourada and azulejos, is the Baroque tomb of St Joana (1699-1711, by Joao Antunes).
Address: Rua de Santa Joana Princesa, Portugal
Opening hours: 10am-12:30pm, 2pm-5:30pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Anniversity of the Revolution - Portugal (Apr 25), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), National Day - Portugal (Jun 10), Assumption Day - Christian (Aug 15), Republic Day - Portugal (Oct 5), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8), Independence Day - Portugal (Dec 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Good Friday - Christian, Corpus Christi - Christian
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €1.50, Concession or reduced rate €.80
Capela do Senhor das Barrocas
In the north of Aveiro is the octagonal chapel of Senhor das Barrocas (1730), also the work of Joao Antunes. As is usual with Baroque it has richly decorated portals.
Museum of Hunting and Fishing
The Museum of Hunting and Fishing lies in the middle of charming parkland. On display are birds, mammals and fish which are denizens of the Aveiro region.
Map of Aveiro Attractions