Welcome to Aveiro
Looking for a different way of spending a day in Portugal? Aveiro is a perfect choice. This is the Venice of Portugal and you can even have a tour into the canals of Aveiro.
Aveiro is a medium town of around 55,000 people that grew up around its thriving port. Established in Roman times, Aveiro was initially known as Aviarium, meaning, “a gathering place or preserve of birds”. As you would expect of a coastal town with good shelter for boats fishing was an important activity from the beginning. In fact the cod fishing grounds off the coast of Newfoundland were discovered by João Afonso, a son of Aveiro.
The towns other major industry was based around the shallow lagoons that separate Aveiro from the Atlantic. Here vast salt-pans were formed and a salt making industry grew that still exists to this day, although not on quite the same scale. Another industry based around the lagoon is that of seaweed harvesting, the produce of which is used as a natural fertiliser.
As a seaport Aveiro was at its most important in the Middle Ages, up to the end of the 16th century. Unfortunately the gradual silting up of the River Vouga and in the winter of 1575 a great storm forming a sandbar across the river mouth led to the demise of Aveiro’s port. It also cut off the lagoon from the tide turning it into a vast swamp.
In 1808 a channel was cut, reopening the town to the sea and draining the marshes and later on 2 large breakwaters were added.