A few blocks from the canals, this building was once a convent (Convento de Jesus) built in the 15th century. It contains the tomb of the daughter of Afonso V, St. Joana, who died in 1490. The presence of this royal personage, beatified in 1693, proved to be of great benefit when she bequeathed her valuable estate to the convent. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the convent housed a school of embroidery, which produced many of the sumptuous pieces kept in the museum.
It's exaggerated the comparison to Venice, but Aveiro is, really very tight to water.
A few canals cross the city, and in the neighborhoods, most of their life is connected to the sea and lagoon. Aveiro is mainly a growing industrial city, wit the sea present everywhere.
Most people who come to Aveiro enjoy the canals and the northern part of Canal Central. Despite promixity, not many people take a walk to the city hall, Câmara Municipal, located on the pedestrianized street of Rua Coimbra. The city hall is on Praça da República, where the statue of the civil revolution hero, João Magalhães, is located in its center. The city hall building, built in 1797, is in the typical Portuguese style, with dark pink roofs with light pink surface. Right around the square is Igreja da Misericódia, whose façade is ornated with blue-and-white azulejo panels. The building right across the main city hall is where Aveiro Digital is located, a free, city government-owned Internet station.
Although I did not get to do this, there are also tours of the canals and Ria de Aveiro, a wide marshland that was blocked from the ocean after a storm in the 1570s, on traditional seaweed boats called Moliceiros. The tickets for this can also be purchased at the tourism office, and it leaves at Canal Central right in front of where the sightseeing bus departs. It is a Venezia's gondola tour-equivalent of Aveiro, and gets filled up pretty quickly. So if you've got some time in the city, go ahead and do this tour! It will be a very special way to enjoy the city.
Operated by Rota da Luz, the regional tourism board, the open-top bus tour of Aveiro takes about 45~60 minutes. The tickets (5 euros) may be purchased at the tourism office and must be presented to the bus driver on board. It passes the various notable places of Aveiro, such as Canal de São Roque, Universidade de Aveiro, Rossio, Igreja de São Domingos, and Estação de Aveiro. It is a great way of taking a glance of this unique city. But one thing: Don't complain that the bus passes by salt pans for the first several minutes, because remember, salt has been the major source of life for Aveiro citizens historically!
The buses run hourly during the day, every half hour.
From Praça Humberto Delgado, located in the very center of the city, you will see the canal stretching to the Atlantic Ocean. Lined with beautiful buildings and houses with azulejo panels, the canal is dotted with a number of moliceiros, traditional fishing boats in Aveiro. There is a nice promenade from Largo do Rossio, a wide park on the western side of the canal. This area is very crowded in a high-season for the tourists who want to do the tour of Ria by one of the moliceiros (Duration: 1 hour, almost on hourly basis) or a trip to the mouth of Ria by a boat, as well as an open-top bus tour of the city that leaves from the tourist office.
A bridge that crosses the canal leads you to Forum Aveiro and Universidade de Aveiro.
Although its role as the main gate to the city has been now moved to the new station right next to it, the old station building still is the center of attention due to the beautiful azulejo panels on the surface, depicting the local traditions of the area. It is at the end of Avenida, the wide avenue that stretches from the downtown. The station is at the other end of Avenida, so you won't miss it. It's about 15-minute walk from the center of the city.
Near the main channel (within walking distance), you may find the Sé of Aveiro (Church of São Domingos). This 15th century church is an ancient Dominican monastery. It may be visited free of charge, as long as there are no religious services going on.
In Aveiro there are several noticeable Art Nouveaux styled houses, which are doubtless a must see when visiting this city.
The houses depicted on my photo are situated along the main channel, being that one of them nowadays houses the tourism office. These houses are not opened for visits, and may only be admired from the outside. As you may see on the photo, some of them are refurbished and well taken care of, whilst others aren’t.
Moliceiros are colourful boats which are typical of Ria de Aveiro. Nowadays they are a symbol and a reference of Aveiro.
In former days, they were associated with the activity of collecting a kind of weed that grew in the river bed. This activity was of major economic importance to the city and its people. Nowadays, as it happened with so many other secular traditions across the country, it no longer exists as a regular economic activity.
Aveiro’s main attractions are the channels. Some say that Aveiro is the Venice of Portugal. Well, that is said due to the channels, but be aware that Aveiro is not Venice, so don’t raise your expectations that high. It is no doubt a beautiful city, but it isn’t Venice.
This said it’s time to introduce the channels. The main channel is called Canal Central (Central Channel) and it crosses downtown. It is the ideal place for a stroll along its margins to observe the city. Also, when you reach the square, the channel exhibits its typical colourful boats, called Moliceiros (see next tip about Moliceiros).
At this stage, it is possible to enjoy a boat trip along the channel (but in regular boats not Moliceiros). There is plenty of offer there concerning this kind of trip, although I have never done any, so I cannot account to its value or quality.
Oh how nice... After discovering the city-center for a half day we decided it was time to see something new. And the new things were the beach. There are two big beaches outside Aveiro, and I suggest you to take the car, or a bus if there is one, from the city-center, since it's way too long to go there by foot.
The beach we went to was chilometer-long, with really nice, white, sand. Since I'm a chicken (...) I never went into the water (17 ***ing degrees, who would swim then...??) but I would say that the beach is the best thing. The water didn't seem too nice.
But I might be wrong. Again...
Close to the beach are also two minigolf-courts, where we spent the rest of the day, burning our skin... It's something i would suggest you to try (playing minigolf, not burning the skin...) since it was a great play.
Although I didn't win, it was good courts, and not too much people either, even if it was during high-season.
Parking-places are no problem, close by to the beach. And also the roads are fine.
Well, actually I don't know if this is a "must see"-thing, but...
We went into the tourist-office in Aveiro, told the lady there that we were in Aveiro for one day, and asked her what we had to see. The first thing she mentioned was the fantastic painted bridge, something like the Ponte Vecchio in Florenze.
So, off we went, and really off we got. The bridge is situated a bit outside the city, at least the city-center. From the center I would say it's 10-15 minutes by foot.
We got to this canale, and we were looking around for this amazing bridge. To the left, to the right, and no bridge...
To the left, to the right, to the map, and all we could see was these little tiny bridge with some bright paintings on.
After 10 minutes we understood that it was it. THE bridge.
Least to say we got a bit disappointed...
Funnier with the water instead, which was crowded with fish. You could stand up on the bridge, looking down at all the fishes. And if you are more clever than we were you might bring some bread to feed them with too, and you'll see a lot more... :)
I don't know the history behind this bridge, not even the name. Can't say I'm the guy who would remembered it either... But it was fun to be there, the bridge is actually quite nice, at least if you're not expecting to see the Ponte Vecchio.
It's not the Venice, but still it's very nice! It gives the town a nice feeling, since water, at least for me, makes it more calm.
Around the canales there are small sidewalks, where you can stand or sit, watching people walking by, or the nice canales. Around the canales on the other side of the road you'll instead find fun shops.
Although some of them were a bit too touristique...
The Catedral and Cruzeiro de S. Domingos date from the XV Century and used to be convent from the Dominican Monks.
The cruzeiro is barely on the picture, extreme left, and it is said to be in Portuguese Gothic style.