Welcome back to my little corner of the internet!
In my last post we walked along the enchanted streets of rainy Porto (you can check out the article here).
Less than an hour by car from Porto you’ll find the picturesque town of Aveiro. It is known as the Venice of Portugal, due to its canals.
Since the Roman ages, Aveiro was an important economic centre for the production and export of salt. Thanks to the winds and the favourable climate, the production of salt boomed.
The main channel of the town presents itself as soon as you reach the town centre. One of the first things that will catch your eye are the traditional gondolas. For 10€ you can take a 1h ride on the gondola and get a detailed tour of the town. Obviously, we had to get on one!
The guide stood on the gondola the same way the workers used to stand in the past. The only difference was that nowadays the boat is propelled with an engine and not through canes that worked as ores.
These boats did not only transport salt, but also seaweed. This was used as fertilizer on the fields, since Aveiro did not have much cattle and there was a lot of seaweed, which worked perfectly as a fertilizer.
At the end of the channels these are blocked to avoid flooding and emptying with the tides. The most interesting part however is that the water in the canals is ALWAYS fresh. Every two weeks the gates are opened in the evening when the tide is low. The canals empty and the gates are left open throughout the night. In the morning, the high tide will have filled them again. The gates are thus closed once again. This is why the water is clear and not murky. In the past, all the kids would learn to swim in those very canals.
A secret was lifted
Finally, the question about the azulejos was answered. There is actually a very practical reason for covering the houses in these ceramic tiles. If you look closely, you will find azulejos in towns and cities along the coast. There the strong winds and the salty air would corrode the façades of the houses. By covering them in ceramic tiles, you could avoid this nuisance and the houses would last much longer.
Lastly, the most important thing you should not miss in Aveiro are its Ovos Moles. These traditional sweets were the chocolates children had, before chocolare was introduced to Europe. They are made from egg yolks and sugar. This mixture would be encased in a rice paper wafer, basically the same as the hosts that are used in Catholic masses. These sweets are often shaped as shells, fish and other seafoods.
I personally find they are best with a strong tea or a black coffee.
Have you ever been to Aveiro? Let me know in the comments below.