Visit Ovar - Travelling in Portugal

Ovar Townhall
Ovar Townhall | Source

Portugal has an immense number of fabulous places to visit, from Algarve to Minho, the list is endless, but among popular destinations, which we've all heard about, we can find small towns and villages, a bit forgotten, but truly amazing and deserving a visit as much as those recognized touristic destinations. In fact, sometimes even more.

In all fairness, it is often the quiet, relaxing, peaceful and unknown locations that keep the most secrets and treasures.

In Portugal, in the central section of Portuguese coastline (the Silver Coast), in Aveiro’s district, you find one of those places, the town of Ovar.

It’s not possible to pinpoint the exact moment that Ovar came to be. It is said, nonetheless, that the region was inhabited since pre-historic times, since it was always a very fertile area. However it’s possible to trace back the origins of Ovar to the 10th and 11th Centuries, when several official documents mention the village of Ovar and its fishing port.

Ovar and its current parishes development was based on its location and its characteristics. In fact, Ovar is surrounded by lagoons and saltpans, bordered by the sea and the land is fertile, flat and rich. Therefore, from the early days fishing, the salt evaporation ponds, agriculture were extremely important for the town’s economical development.

Another interesting fact about Ovar is that it is bathed by Aveiro’s Lagoon and its canals. This fact makes up for a lot of Ovar’s biodiversity and imprints distinct features to the landscape.

Location

Ovar is conveniently located between the cities of O’Porto and Aveiro, therefore if you get a little bored of too much peace and quiet you can quite easily and quickly find yourself in a major city and all it has to offer. Actually, not only Ovar is at a nice distance from Aveiro and O’Porto (approx. 30 minutes each way), but also from other very interesting places to visit, such as Santa Maria da Feira, with its amazing castle and famous medieval fair.

show route and directions
A markerOvar -
Ovar, Portugal
[get directions]

B markerPorto -
Porto, Portugal
[get directions]

C markerAveiro -
Aveiro, Portugal
[get directions]

D markerSanta Maria da Feira -
Santa Maria Da Feira, Portugal
[get directions]

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chapel of our Lady of GraceWalking around townWalking around townMain churchMain ChurchWalking around townDetail of the tiles applied on the walls of the housesWalking around townWalking around town
Chapel of our Lady of Grace
Chapel of our Lady of Grace | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Main church
Main church | Source
Main Church
Main Church | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Detail of the tiles applied on the walls of the houses
Detail of the tiles applied on the walls of the houses | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Neptune's fountainWalking around townWalking around townCourthouseWalking around townWalking around townPassos ChapelWalking around townWalking around townPassos ChapelWalking around townWalking around townChapel of Saint Anthony and the townhallPassos ChapelWalking around townWalking around townWalking around townChapel of Saint AnthonyTownhallWalking around town
Neptune's fountain
Neptune's fountain | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Courthouse
Courthouse | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Passos Chapel
Passos Chapel | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Passos Chapel
Passos Chapel | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Chapel of Saint Anthony and the townhall
Chapel of Saint Anthony and the townhall | Source
Passos Chapel
Passos Chapel | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source
Chapel of Saint Anthony
Chapel of Saint Anthony | Source
Townhall
Townhall | Source
Walking around town
Walking around town | Source

What to see/Where to go

The main church (Igreja Matriz)

This church was built on the 17th century and is located in the center of town. It is a church with a longitudinal design, with three aisles divided by rows of stone columns, with two side chapels, two pulpits and choir. The front facade covered in beautifully ceramic tiles is definitely worth a second glance, as well as the bell towers.

Ovar museum

Visiting Ovar you really need to check out the local museum. It’s not that it is a big museum, but it is interesting and a must see if you want to understand a bit more of the land and the people. It’s also a good opportunity to see some old photographs of Ovar. You can’t miss the exhibits on regional costumes with magnificent embroidery and lace, typical homes, hundreds of dolls and tableaux recreating the old lifestyle and, of course, the ceramic tile work (azulejos), for which the town is well-known.

Passos Chapels (Step Chapels)

The set is made of seven chapels, each one represents a step in the Passion of Christ. The seven chapels were built during the 18th century and are unique in the country. The first chapel is actually located inside the main church, from there you can walk around the town visiting the rest of the chapels. The sculptures inside each chapels are amazing, depicting scenes of the Passion of Christ.


Julio Dinis Museum and the Garden of the Fields (Jardim dos Campos)

The Garden of the Fields is a rectangular shaped garden in the center of the town, just besides it you can find the Júlio Dinis Museum. Júlio Dinis was a famous Portuguese writer and also a doctor, who lived in Ovar, having written there his most famous novel. He retired to Ovar at a very young age on account of his deteriorating health condition, since he had tuberculosis. Unfortunately he died at the very young age of 31 years old. The museum is located in the house he lived in during the stay in Ovar. Until this day, and though none of his works were ever translated to English, he is a very well-known and cherished writer. A pity none of the works were translated to English, especially if we consider his mother was of English birth.

Neptune’s fountain

One of the symbols of the town, inaugurated in 1877. It was the town’s first public water supply.

The town

The town alone, its houses, its streets deserve a second glance. Walking around in Ovar you will be amazed to find beautiful, lavishing old houses encased with mosaic multicoloured tiles, so characteristic of the town. In fact the town is well known for its ceramic tile work of painted, tin-glazed tiles (azulejo). This ceramic tile work was always famous in Portugal, but became particularly popular around the 19th century by the Brazilian immigrants that started an industrialized production of tiles in the north of the country. In Brazil it was customary to apply tiles on the walls of the houses. It became a trend and soon everyone was doing it, also because it was a solution for humidity, cleaning issues and aesthetics, of course.

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Furadouro beach

Ovar has a lot of beaches nearby, but the most sought after is certainly Furadouro beach. The white sand beach surrounded by the dunes landscape and its typical vegetation is an invitation to everyone that wants to enjoy and relax. In the summer, the streets are filled with people looking to have a good time. Day or night the cafes, the restaurants, the bars are busy and usually during the high season there’s always special events, such as concerts, summer parties and the likes. People walk around, head down to the beach, stop at a promenade or even take a walk on the dunes, using the wooden passageways available. Good accesses and beach facilities for the disabled are also a plus. Finally, it’s also a great place if you are into surf, body board or long board. Furadouro is an exposed beach break and here surf is consistent and can work all year round. Its strong waves make up for a solid reputation when it comes to these sports.

Something special

But there are some special features about the town, that little something, something…

Which is…

Well, for starters, there is the Carnival. It’s a big deal around the town, everybody gets involved and starts working to prepare the events months before. It takes a lot of time, money and work, but it’s a reason for pride and it’s not just one day or just one parade, it goes on and on … So, it’s quite worth it. By the end of January Carnival related events start and go on until the actual carnival day, so you get an endless number of events, concerts, shows, etc. The town takes a lot of pride on its carnival and since it first started being an organised event, back in 1952, its reputation has grown.

The other little something, something is a sweet something… It is like nothing you have ever seen or tasted and it can’t be described, you really must try it. It is Ovar Sponge Cake. Now, when I put it like that, it probably doesn't mean much, after all, we all know what a sponge cake is, everybody can do it and personally I find it a bit bland, but this particular sponge cake it’s not your regular sponge cake, this one is really moist and creamy and terribly hard to bake… and it genuinely melts in your mouth. So, you should definitely try it and you will not be disappointed.

Pão de ló de Ovar

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http://www.oportunetempore.com/news.php
http://www.oportunetempore.com/news.php | Source
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Last, but not least…

Finally, it is very important where you stay and where you eat, so here are a couple of pointers, so that you can fully enjoy your stay:

Hotel Meia-Lua (Half Moon)

Furadouro – Boutique Hotel Beach & Spa

Restaurant Oasis

Restaurant Oxalá

And if you do visit Ovar, don’t forget to let me know how it went…

Feedback

Don’t forget to leave me your comment and vote on the hub.

For more information check out my profile and stop by my other hubs.

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© Copyright Apr 04 2012 / Algarveview.hubpages.com. To use part or the whole article you must first get written permission from the author. Feel free, nonetheless, to use an intro of the hub with a link to the article here on hubpages for the rest of the article.

© 2012 Joana e Bruno

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Comments 7 comments

alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Sorry I missed this location when I was in Portugal. The beach looks wonderful. Voting this Up and Interesting. SHARED.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hello, Alocsin, thanks for reading and commenting. Glad you liked it and it's a place really worth visiting. So, you've been to Portugal, whereabouts were you? Did you like it? And are you thinking of a second trip? Have a great day!


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago

Wow the churches and the beach look awesome... I wish I could holiday here sometime soon. Pão de ló de Ovar sounds very tempting. Interesting hub. Voting up. Have a lovely day.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hi, Sofs, I'm glad you liked it, I think it's a wonderful place and the Pão de Ló... hmmm... mouth-watering. Thanks for reading, commenting and voting and I hope you also have a lovely day!


Ana 4 years ago

What can I say!!!!!???

I'm from Ovar and everything you say is true!

Our sponge cake (Pão-de-Ló de Ovar; as there are types of this cake in the country, it's in important to emphasize "OVAR" sponge cake) is something so, but so very, very special, that you have to be conscious of one thing: if you can eat it with a fork or a spoon and find a 0,5cm moist and creamy layer, you are sure you're eating a well prepared, weel cooked one! When it is in the oven, only a couple of minutes make the difference between a "raw" Pão-de-Ló and a well cooked one!

Just one more thing: a new park along the river that crosses the city is about to be inaugurated! It looks very good!

Last but not least: CARNIVAL! Even for the portuguese who aren't from Ovar it is hard to understand the meaning it has here. The most important thing about Carnival aren't the parades, but the spirit! During Carnival (festivities begin in the early days of January...... Yes, that true!!!!! 3 weeks before Carnival the first mascareded people go out on Saturday night (mascaraded can mean a lot of things but certainly not an expensive, fancy disguise....); 2 weeks before Carnival, half of the city does that; in the weekend before Carnival almost everyone is masked!!!!! The Carnival's weekend is total craziness: there are tents with music in some squares (one is paid, all the others are free) and everyone is out and all the action takes places outsided in the open air!!!!! Security and assistance are assured by the police and by emergency tents with doctors, nurses, fireman and ambulances (a whole street is closed for that purpose!!!!!!!)!

Carnival and Ovar Sponge Cake share a common element: you'll understand their meaning only after trying!


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hi, Ana, I totally agree with you, no amount of words can ever explain what our sponge cake and our carnival are about. Nonetheless let's hope that the words are enough to convince others to try them for real... Thanks for reading and commenting and have a great day!


aesta1 profile image

aesta1 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

We have not put Ovar in the list for our Portugal trip this December but now, we will definitely drive there from Coimbra. Thanks.

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