There are a surprising number of Art Nouveau buildings in Portugal, yet Aveiro still shines a bit more joyful, colourful. Perhaps it’s Aveiro’s relaxed pace, that makes the architectural exploration more pleasant. Perhaps it’s the multicoloured moliceiro boats that bob cheerfully up and down in the canal that lend the city some brightness. Or perhaps it’s just these gorgeous houses standing parade and inviting you inside to have a closer look.
Let’s go for an Art Nouveau stroll in Aveiro!
We’ve put together a 5 km walking itinerary that takes you past the 20 most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in the centre of Aveiro plus some of its most beautiful sites. You can check out the Google Maps we created in the end of the article. While the map and walking tour arranges the houses in progressing order, we compiled the lineup below a little different. It’s our Top20 list, starting with the most dazzling.
Casa do Major Pessoa
Already when architect Francisco Augusto da Silva Rocha had the house designed for businessman Major Pessoa in 1909, the newspapers were unanimous in their praise of the building. It has been beautifully preserved, and today, quite appropriately, it houses the Museu de Arte Nova that gives you a chance to survey the building from inside as well. Finish the tour of the museum in the tea room in the back of the house or outside in the courtyard. It’s a good place as any to try some of those Ovos Moles sweets that Aveiro is known for, while you take in the details of the azulejos or the exquisite ironwork.
Antiga Cooperativa Agricola
This Former Agricultural Cooperative was finished in 1913 and is also attributed to architect Francisco Augusto da Silva Rocha. It’s the easternmost one of a trifecta of beautiful buildings, and its facade is entirely covered with pink, orange and reddish azulejos of lilies, painted by hand. Check out the ironwork of the balconies and the small flowers that adorn them. And the mullions in the windows in the 1st floor. They just don’t make them like that any more. Sadly.
Hotel As Américas
The building was designed by artist José de Pinho for his daughter, and must have been just as lovely when it was finished in 1910, as it is today. José de Pinho wasn’t even an architect or had any specific training in architecture or civil construction. He was a native of Aveiro and an acknowledged regional painter. The house stands as an adornment to the ghastly grey and modern Hotel As Americas behind it and serves as restaurant room for the hotel.
Cais À Porta
Unfortunately, there’s not much information about this pretty, green tiled house at one of the canals. What made us fall in love with the house whas its nautical theme, which is evident in all its ornamentation and is so creatively and masterfully executed. Look at the top window, how it resembles an anchor upside down, or the two middle windows, designed as rectangular anchors. There are anchors in the stone ornamentation and anchors in the azulejos, where they intertwine with stylized seaweed. There are just so many fun details!
Casa dos Ovos Moles
Pretty in pink. This feminine house along Aveiro’s main waterfront is also attributed to José de Pinho and was finished in 1923. He clearly was inspired by Casa do Major Pessoa for the gable window, with its so-called “japanese arch” framed by carved stonework. The windows on the 1st floor are framed in “Mackintosh style”, consisting of different sized rectangles. The ironwork with their floral and symmetrical ornamentations are simply beautiful.
Testa & Amadores
The two-storey corner building dates back to 1914 and is adorned with the beautiful azulejos from the famed Aveiro ceramic factory “Fábrica da Fonte Nova” that had its heyday during the Art Nouveau period of Portugal, as it existed from 1882 – 1937. You can go inside and enjoy a cup of coffee in the “Património Caffé”. There may not be much Art Nouveau architecture there, but you can enjoy the view of the ironwork from inside.
While you’re here, use the opportunity to study the beautiful azulejos of the opposite building, the “Antiga Sapataria Leitão”. The building may be on the fringe of the architectural definition of Art Nouveau, but the tiles from 1927 are worth of admiration.
Palace of João A. Machado
It may be a bit of an exaggeration to call this house a palace. But if “a man’s home is his castle,” João A. Machado must have felt very much at home in his mansion from 1918. The floral motifs in the stonework are exquisite, as are the azulejos that adorn the top frieze with floral elements in shades of green and pink.
Edifício das Quatro Estações
If you know that “Quatro Estações” mean “Four Seasons”, you’ll have a qualified guess as what the 4 beautiful, large azulejos from the famed Aveiro ceramic factory “Fábrica da Fonte Nova” portray. Architecturally, the house doesn’t offer any other delights, but the decorations make the house worth the visit.
Casa da Silva Rocha
Architect Francisco Augusto da Silva Rocha’s residence from 1904 calls for attention with its rich yellow colour even before you get closer to have a look at its Art Nouveau details. The palm tree leaves adorning the front door and 1st floor windows are quite exotic. And check out the architect’s initials SR in the stone medallion embedded in the arch of the 1st floor windows. The flower and dragon azulejos in blue tones complement the colour of the house and the ironwork of the balcony is elegant in its simplicity.
Antiga Sapateria Miguéis
A former shoe store, this corner edifice from 1918 is mostly notable because of its window decorations, that are quite different from each side of the building. The side facing the pedestrian street has voluminous decorations of almost baroque proportions. Just look at the street sign on the building. Very theatrical. The other side is more unobtrusive, yet the stylised floral motifs are very decorative. And also a bit exotic: An indian henna tattoo pattern comes to mind.
Casa Do Doutor Peixinho
Aveiro’s most notable Art Nouveau architect Francisco Augusto da Silva Rocha was also behind this house that was finished in 1910. Inside, it’s supposedly one of the few houses in Aveiro (together with Major Pessoa’s House) which still have an intact Art Nouveau interior. Unless you’re invited in for tea, you’ll have to suffice admiring the beautiful balcony ironwork and the undulating door from the outside.
Turismo Centro de Portugal
Aveiro City Museum
It’s hard to stand out in this attractive trifecta of Art Nouveau houses on the waterfront. But one can always count on red colour to do the trick. So has the city museum accentuated the curvy shapes of the art nouveau windows of this building from 1915. The iron palm leaves on the 1st floor balcony add to its charm. And I’m sure I see owl shapes in the corner pilasters. Or is it amphoras? I’ll leave you to decide.
Edifício Florentino Vicente Ferreira
This building from 1907 is a collaboration between architects Ernesto Korrodi and Francisco Augusto da Silva Rocha. Although in dire need of restoration, you can still admire its timeless Art Nouveau beauty: the cheerfully coloured tiles, the azulejo frieze under the roof, the curvy, floral ironwork at the doors and windows. And can you spot the initials FVF at the very top?
Edifício dos Lírios
The Lilies Building. That kinda says it all. Like “Edifício das Quatro Estações” it’s not the building, but the azulejos that are its main feature. These tiles were painted by Licínio Pinto from Fábrica Fonte Nova in 1912.
It’s quite odd to have the mottos “Honour” and “Labour” outside a restaurant. Well, that’s because it originally was a metal workshop with residencial functions for Manuel Ferreira, who employed local Art Nouveau architect Silva Rocha to do the job. He did so in 1909, and today, more than 110 years later, the building still looks immaculate.
Bandstand at Parque Infante Dom Pedro
The bandstand from 1905 has ironwork with musical motifs.