If you’re planning to visit northern Portugal, Aveiro is one of those really unique cities that keeps tourists coming back over and over again. It has salt ponds that produce fine cooking salt, it’s the home of ovos moles, and it has the fun and colrful moliceiro boats. But what you probably didn’t realize was that Aveiro is full of beautiful Art Nouveau architecture. In fact, it’s classified as the cidade-museu da Arte Nova, or “Art Nouveau city-museum”.
The reason why there are so many beautiful Art Nouveau-style buildings in the city is because at the turn of the 20th century, many Portuguese returned form Brazil with their newly-found wealth. The returned emigrants (and other, wealthier families) built homes in the latest style that was taking Europe by storm. Sources point to this architectural change in Aveiro starting in 1904. Even today, Aveiro is one of only 20 cities in the world that make up the Réseau Art Nouveau network: cities whose Art Nouveau heritage is significant.
Aside from being a “city-museum”, Aveiro also has an actual Art Nouveau museum in the city. It’s not expensive to visit, but I was actually a little disappointed in it. The building has some pretty details inside, as well as information on the art movement, but I was expecting some of the opulence you see on the front and back of the building on the inside, which is not the case.
If you want to see stunning 110-year-old architecture, simply walk along Aveiro’s central canal and look all around you. Don’t forget to look down some of the pedestrian-only squares and streets for more architectural treasures. One thing you may notice during your walk is how the Art Nouveau style in Aveiro has a distinctive Portuguese aspect to it: in the form of azulejo tiles. Only, not the blue and white azulejos we all know and love; no, these ones feature curly foliage, animals, and other natural elements that are so archetypal to the style. It’s an Art Nouveau connoisseur’s dream!
Have you been to Aveiro? What’s your favorite building?