5 Ways To Experience The Culture Of Aveiro & Ilhavo
You can't say you're an expert on Portuguese culture until you've visited the coastal cities of Aveiro & Ilhavo. Together they represent a unique and indispensable aspect of the nation's artistic and maritime heritage. In this list we introduce 5 must-visit attractions that paint a comprehensive picture of the area's cultural landscape. Also note that most of these institutions have their own easily accessible stops on the City Sightseeing Aveiro & Ilhavo Bus Tour.
TOUR THE VISTA ALEGRE MUSEUM. (3830-292 Ilhavo, Portugal)
Anyone who's visited Lisbon will probably have encountered the iconic porcelain tiles that embellish many of the capital's older buildings. This decorative style permeates traditional architecture throughout Portugal and one of its main sources is Aveiro, whose 'Vista Alegre' brand is amongst the most famous. At the Vista Alegre Museum and Porcelain Factory you'll be able to learn all about the craft's various forms, its history, and even get to see how it's all made. The full production process is laid out before inquiring visitors in the factory portion, while the museum collection contains some of the oldest works produced by Vista Alegre. By contacting the Porcelain Factory directly you can even book a 2-hour painting workshop.
VISIT THE MUSEU DE AVEIRO. (Avenida Santa Joana, 3810-329 Aveiro)
Housed within Aveiro's sprawling Jesus Convent is one of Portugal's most extensive ecclesiastical arts collections. Exquisite paintings, sculptures, gold and silver jewellery, and even tile works dated to the 17th and 18th centuries stand on full public display throughout its lengthy modern galleries. One of the key strengths of the collection is that its works derive from religious institutions all across Portugal, some actually going as far back as the 15th century. Another big draw for visitors, particularly native Portuguese, is the tomb of Infanta Joana. As the daughter of King Afonso V she choose to take up residence in the monastery and, upon her death, became the town’s patron saint.
EXPERIENCE THE ILHAVO MARITIME MUSEUM. (Avenida Doutor Rocha Madail, 3830-193 Ílhavo)
At its most prestigious Portugal's seafaring heritage boasts the circumnavigation of oceans and the discovery of continents, while at its humblest it involves a unique and colourful fishing culture. By visiting the Ílhavo Maritime Museum you'll be able to explore both across a selection of fun and modern exhibition spaces. Highlight displays include a number of the region's oldest moliceiro boats, and artefacts include original navigation charts, instruments and logs. As you wander around the museum remember to get a good look at its beautiful collection of ultra rare seashells. Visitors are welcome all all year round Tuesday to Sunday.
BROWSE THE MERCADO DO PEIXE. (Largo Praça Peixe 1, 3800-243 Aveiro)
One of the best ways to mingle with locals in Aveiro whilst enjoying some of Portugal's best seafood is to head along to the Aveiro Fish Market along Largo Praça Peixe. Divided into two sections the magic starts in the market itself, where fresh fish is delivered everyday around lunchtime. Crowds gather to browse, buy and generally enjoy the bustling atmosphere of an age-old tradition. However, the centrepiece of the complex is arguably the Mercado do Peixe Restaurant, an entirely glass-plated building whose panoramic dining area overlooks the picturesque São Roque Canal. If you love your seafood then this is one not to be overlooked.
ADMIRE WORKS IN THE ART NOUVEAU MUSEUM. (Rua Dr. Barbosa Magalhães 9, 3800-105 Aveiro)
Last on the list is a place dedicated to one of history's most distinctive art styles. Art Nouveau took off in the late 1800s to early 1900s and rapidly spread to big cities across Europe. Hotspots ranged from Paris to Prague, and places like Riga saw an explosion in popularity (40% of the modern cityscape is in the style). When it comes to Portugal you might be familiar with Lisbon and Porto's Nouveau influences, but there's a third city were it really took hold, Aveiro! Nowhere is the art style better represented than in the gorgeous Art Nouveau Museum on Rua Barbosa Magalhães (Casa Major Pessoa).
Inside you'll discover how typical Art Nouveau themes blended with traditional Portuguese design elements to create one of the style's most distinguished offshoots. We'd also recommend grabbing a cup of tea or coffee in the Casa de Chá tearoom. It's got an open-air terrace with giant bean bag chairs!
Though it's an introduction we're guaranteed to have missed a place or two. If you know of a museum, activity or sightseeing spot in Aveiro that deserves attention then feel free to comment below. We'd love to hear about it!