Aveiro is known as the Venice of Portugal, because, like the Italian city, it also has an estuary that runs in the centre of the city, where boats known as Moliceiros circulate, which cross the estuary during sightseeing tours. The Aveiro district, in addition to the tourist attractions in the city, has much more to offer in other locations, from beaches to unique sweets in Portugal, which make visiting Aveiro an experience like no other.
Historically, Moliceiros were boats that were used to harvest Moliço, an aquatic plant that was used as fertilizer by the inhabitants. Nowadays, the harvest of Moliço is scarcer and Moliceiros are now one of the most popular tourist attractions for those visiting Aveiro. The boats are about 15 metres long and in addition to their peculiar shape, they are painted with caricatures that date back from the 19th century to the country's present times. Vessels, as a rule, cross the four urban channels of the Ria de Aveiro: Central Channel, Pyramids Channel, Cojo Channel and São Roque Channel. Through these channels, it is possible to have a view of the entire city of Aveiro. Passing through the salt marshes and the main highlight of the Carcavelos bridge.
Despite being appreciated all over the country, the real Ovos Moles are produced in Aveiro. The cream made with sugar syrup and egg yolks will sweeten the palate of all who tasted this sweet wrapped in a thin wafer, sometimes dipped in sugar syrup for a more consistent texture. The recipe for this delicacy was invented in several convents that existed until the 19th century. In the case of Ovos Moles, the recipe was invented from the Monastery of Jesus in Aveiro. As the nuns used egg whites to iron their clothes, the yolks of these same eggs began to be used in the making of Eggs Moles de Aveiro. After the extinction of the convents, the recipe was perpetrated by women who had been educated by the nuns and who decided to keep the confection of the delicacy that fills wafer leaves moulded in shapes that represent the sea, such as shells, fish and whelks.
Ovos Moles de Aveiro was the first Portuguese product to receive a distinction from the European Union. Today several stores sell the delicacy produced in their confection units.
In terms of education and knowledge, Aveiro has a university that in 2011 was considered one of the best in Europe and the best in Portugal by the British magazine Times Higher Education. The University of Aveiro, founded in 1973, is made up of 16 departments and four polytechnic schools focused on the humanities, but mainly on the exact sciences, such as engineering and life sciences.
With 19 research units in the most diverse areas, the University of Aveiro has been part of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) since 1998.
João Beirão @beiraophotography
Outside the city limits of Aveiro, there are also several tourist attractions, especially for those who like the beach. In the municipality of Ílhavo there are two of the most famous beaches in the Aveiro region: Praia da Barra and Costa Nova. The Barra lighthouse is present in Barra, the tallest of the 48 existing maritime lighthouses in Portugal.
In Costa Nova, the main attraction will be the "haystacks", houses that were formerly built-in wood and now in concrete. The haystacks attract tourists by the painting of their shutters, made in vertical stripes with appealing colours, such as red or blue, alternating with white.
Ílhavo is also entirely linked to cod fishing, this connection to the sea is further developed in the Maritime Museum of Ílhavo, where the only side trawler for cod fishing in the country is located. It is also in the region of Costa Nova that another sweet delicacy is born in the region of Aveiro: Tripa de Aveiro. It is said that the “tripe”(tripa, in Portuguese) was created by José Oliveira, after having served an American kitchen biscuit at his establishment for less time than usual, at the request of a client. The sweet is served plain or filled with chocolate or even Ovos Moles. The designation of “tripe” arises from the reaction of children who, when picking up the dough, compared its texture to the gut of an animal. The sweet is now sold in several cafes or kiosks throughout the city of Aveiro and other neighbouring locations.
For those who enjoy urban art, Águeda is the perfect location to visit. With streets covered with colourful umbrellas, visiting Águeda will be an experience filled with joy. There are in the city with more than 30 visiting points that create a street gallery of urban art, with painting drawn in walls and in buildings.
In the past, Aveiro was the biggest salt-producing centre in Portugal, and in 1956, according to the Salinas de Aveiro official website, there were 270 marines in operation, producing 60 thousand tons of salt per year. Currently, only nine navies in the region are explored for salt. Salt in Aveiro is extracted by hand using wooden tools and the Marnoto, the man responsible for extracting salt.
The Aveiro region is one of the most emblematic in the country, due to its history and cultural reasons that link the present to the past, from gastronomy to the sea, to knowledge and education. Aveiro is undoubtedly a trip to consider in the Centre of Portugal.