Aveiro is a municipality and a city, in the central region of Portugal. At the time of the last census, taken in 2011, the population was recorded as being 78,450.
There are 10 freguesias in Aveiro city:
- Eixo e Eirol
- Glória e Vera Cruz, the urban centre and seat of the municipality of Aveiro
- Requeixo, Nossa Senhora de Fátima e Nariz
- Santa Joana
- São Bernardo
- São Jacinto
Aveiro established itself as a major port, along the Vouga River, harvesting sea salt and also as a base for fishing, until a huge storm in the 16th century blocked the entrance to the port by forming sandbars across it. Without the operational port, Aveiro suffered a decline in it’s economy which resulted in a significant decrease in population. It wasn’t until 1808, when artificial canals were created, that the city started to expand and grow again.
Today the canals are a touristic spot, where Venice like gondolas and boats can ferry people along the river to take in the varying architecture and art nouveau buildings along the riverside.
Other places to see in and around the city of Aveiro include:
- Igreja da Misericordia de Aveiro (Church of the Misericordia of Aveiro)
- Museu de Aveiro (Museum of Aveiro) situated in the 15th century Convento de Jesus. Here you can see the ornately carved tomb of Santa Joana, the daughter of King Alfonso V, who lived in the convent until her death in 1490.
- Parque Infante D. Pedro (City park)
- Aveiro Cathedral
- The Maritime Museum of Ilhavo where you can learn about the hardships faced by the cod fisherman of the area, who spent up to 6 months out at sea, just off the east coast of Canada.
- The Barra lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Portugal, offers amazing views of the surrounding area.
- Costa Nova beach front, to see the fishermen’s striped coloured houses, looking out on one side to the Atlantic sea and the other side to the calm Aveiro lagoon.
Aveiro has a wide range of schools, covering the standard period of education in Portugal, 6-18 years, as well as crèches and kindergartens offering places from babies to 6 years old. There is also a University situated in the Aveiro area, which is deemed to be one of the best in Portugal. The university campus, built in the 1970’s, was based upon the architecture of the UK’s “new” red-brick universities of the 1960’s.
Aveiro has it’s own football stadium, Estádio Municipal de Aveiro, which was designed for Euro 2004, and a sports club where you can find basketball and football games being played on several levels. As you would imagine from a city near the seafront, there are clubs offering various water sports including swimming, sailing and rowing.
There are regular train services in and out of Aveiro, from the north (Oporto) and the south (Coimbra, Lisbon). The train station itself is worth an extra moment or two to appreciate the art work on the tiled walls. There is also a comprehensive bus service which provides pick up points for those living in the more remote areas of the region.
There are the usual array of shops as you would expect to find in a city, but Aveiro is well known for it’s fish market (Mercado do Peixe). This market first opened in 1904 but has recently been redeveloped under an attractive glass structure.
The shopping centre ‘Forum Aveiro’ hosts an impressive 86 stores for those that like to shop all under one roof, and also has a cinema inside.