15 things to do in Oliveira de Azeméis (Portugal)

Oliveira de Azeméis is a manufacturing town half an hour south of Porto and 20 minutes from the coast. This low-key place makes headlines every May at the Mercado à Moda Antiga, a traditional market and fair that will occupy the center for two days.

A local attraction you’ll remember long after you’ve returned home is Parque La Salette. This is a cultural park on a hill, built around a chapel built in the 19th century to commemorate the Apparition of the Virgin in La Salette, France. The city has some great places to visit, like the centuries-old water mill and bakery, and a quirky museum crammed with ancient and recent exhibits.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Oliveira de Azemes:

1. Parque La Salette

Parque La Salette

Oliveira de Azeméis is proud of this park on a hill to the east of the town.

It was landscaped around a chapel at the turn of the 20th century, which we’ll cover next.

It’s a very refined place to stroll, with grand staircases, gazebos and railed patios with views of the town.

The elevated position of the park allows you to see miles in all directions, as far north as the city of São João da Madeira.

You will find yourself coming back a few times as the park has attractions and facilities such as an ornamental lake, restaurants, cafes, typical glass blowing workshops, campsites and playgrounds of all types.

2. Capela de Nossa Senhora de la Salette

Capela De Nossa Senhora De La Salette

The chapel in the park was built in 1870. Legend has it that the town suffered from a long drought, and on July 5 of the same year, the inhabitants of the town organized a procession to bring the statue of St. Christ to Mount Krasto: when they reached this place, it suddenly began to rain.

Another interesting story is that during the construction of the church, a thief once stole a ring from an image of Marianne at the altar, but he was shot while trying to steal the statue itself.

He survived the attack but lost the same finger as the ring-wearing statue.

The creepy thing is that the finger is still preserved in alcohol and can be seen inside the church!

3. Parque Temático Molinológico

Parque Temático Molinológico

At the confluence of the Antouan and Ur rivers, the mill shows how the currents of water have been used to make bread for centuries.

As the well-preserved Roman milestones and tombstones show, the site has been in use for two thousand years.

The closest is the hydraulic infrastructure of waterwheels, dams and channels, all of which power the mills.

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The museum inside the mill has been running the mill and you can still see it in action.

There are also 19th century tools for flour milling and bread making, and the original oven, which is still used to bake bread.

4. Casa-Museu Regional de Oliveira de Azeméis

Casa-Museu Regional De Oliveira De Azeméis

A wealthy former resident, João Marques de Almeida Carvalho, bequeathed his house and his estate to the town.

What you get are all sorts of crazy items related to the Oliveira de Azeméis area, all in a historic home with original décor and furniture.

There is a gemstone exhibition, newspaper archives, a set of antique farming tools, taxidermy, a butterfly collection, old radios and photographs from the first half of the 20th century.

There are also some fascinating archaeological finds from the two Celtic Castro (Ul and Ossela), as well as black pottery and glassware from the Centro Vidriero factory in Oliveira de Azeméis.

5. Igreja Matriz de Oliveira de Azeméis

Igreja Matriz De Oliveira De Azeméis

The town’s main church, designed in late Mannerism from the early 18th century, is located on a terrace above a winding staircase.

The architecture of the façade is preserved but elegant.

Representation of St. Michael’s victory over Satan in the blue patterned tiles and the niche above the door.

This is older than the church itself, carved in Coimbra in the 1400s.

Go inside and admire the smooth limestone baptistery and retable of twisted Solomon columns.

6. Pinheiro da Ben Posta

Pinheiro da Benposta

The old parish of Pinheiro da Bemposta is located within the municipality of Oliveira de Azeméis.

This lovely village is located on high ground with views of the Aveiro Lagoon, the city of Ovar and even the Atlantic Ocean.

It is the oldest settlement around Oliveira de Azeméis, was once the main town of the city and received a charter from King Manuel I in 1514. The parish church is worth seeing, and there’s a lovely little chapel, which we’ll cover next.

But the most fascinating relic is the 16th-century pillory of the former town hall, once used for public punishment.

It was made in a workshop in Coimbra and features the coat of arms of King Manuel and his symbolic armillary sphere.

7. Capela de Nossa Senhora da Ribeira

Capela De Nossa Senhora Da Ribeira

The chapel is located in a peaceful green space at the confluence of the Antouan River and the stream.

It has the discreet Mannerist style that was popular in the second half of the 1500s.

Although it declined in the 19th century, a local businessman who became rich in Brazil invested in the renovation.

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The most striking element is the Tabernacle, which has four columns containing Mary (Nossa Senhora da Ribeira) and various saints.

There are also 15 frescoes of Marian and Biblical themes from this period, which were forgotten and forgotten until the 1970s.

8. Mercado à Moda Antiga

Oliveira D'Azemes

Now more than two decades old, this annual old market was created to lure tourists to the town.

It was a huge success and since 1997 has expanded to over 38,000 square meters, attracting more than 60,000 visitors to Oliveira de Azeméis.

It all happens in mid-May, with hundreds of stalls selling local handicrafts, fruits, vegetables and local delicacies.

Vendors are dressed in folk costumes from the turn of the 20th century, and nuns use their wrinkles to make typical convent sweets! It is all closely associated with traditional dances, parades, street theatre and evening concerts by famous Portuguese artists (Fado singer Carminho appeared in 2016).

9. Igreja Paroquial de Válega

Igreja Paroquial De Válega

The church is the prettiest in the country, with brightly colored tile panels on its façade and nave.

The basic building was built in the mid-18th century, and it wasn’t until the mid-20th century when a wealthy local couple made a daring renovation to become an imposing building.

They decorated it with colourful glazing, new windows and a coffered ceiling hewn from exotic wood.

The figurative tile panels were fabricated and painted in Aleluia, Aveiro, while the ornate stained glass windows were sourced from Madrid.

When the sun goes down, it illuminates the beautiful panels on the facade.

10. Praia Fluvial Burgães

Playa River Burgas

In the next town, Vale de Cambra, there is a dam on the Caima River, creating an inviting natural pool and beach for summer bathing.

The water winds down from the Serra da Freita mountains and splashes on the Frecha da Mizarela waterfall near the beach.

The beach is patrolled by lifeguards and is surrounded by trees and expansive grassy areas for reclining in the shade.

There are playgrounds, cafés and sports facilities for young people, such as a beach volleyball court for restless teenagers.

11. Cascata da Cabrea

cascata da cabrea

To the southeast of Oliveira de Azeméis is Serra da Cabreia, a hill surrounded by deciduous forest that hides a very romantic beauty.

Cascata da Cabreia is a 25-meter-high waterfall on the Mau River.

It’s off the beaten track, with several walking trails for adventure, and a nearby picnic garden with tables and stone grills.

The best time is after the fall rains, when there are more torrents, although fresh woodland is just as beautiful in midsummer.

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12. Casa-Museu Ferreira de Castro

Castro House Museum Ferreira de Castro

Fans of 20th century Portuguese culture may be interested to know that the famous writer José Maria Ferreira de Castro was born in this town.

His most enduring work is the 1930 novel A Selva (The Forest) about life in Brazil’s rubber plantations.

He was born in an unassuming country house in a vineyard landscape.

On the lower floors, 19th-century country life is recorded with antique tools such as wine presses.

The old living area upstairs holds memorabilia from the author’s career, including books, manuscripts and paraphernalia such as the bag and gloves he carried around the world in 1939 for his travel book A Volta o Mundo.

13. Fuladoro Beach

Praia do Fuladoro

The coast is a 20-minute drive, give or take, it’s a trip that entails witnessing the wild majesty of the Atlantic Ocean.

This beach is three kilometers long and is surrounded by pine trees, sand dunes and a small tourist community.

The water is cold and the waves are unforgiving, so the beach is not for swimming, but for sunbathing on endless stretches of luxurious sand.

For water sports, the north shore of the Aveiro Lagoon is within easy reach, and the warm, shallow waters are ideal for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.

14. Sao Joao da Madeira

Torre da Oliva Building

Without a traditional tourist destination, São João da Madeira is a busy manufacturing city that is attracting different types of tourists.

Many factories here have begun to organize tours, each of which is like a live version of “How It’s Made”. The first stop is the Torre da Oliva building, a spectacular converted factory where you can find what you want to see.

If there’s a must-see factory, it’s probably Viarco, a high-end pencil maker that makes drawing tools for professional artists and architects.

Torre da Oliva houses a footwear museum used by the city’s many manufacturers, and a beloved hat-making museum in another converted factory.

15. Food

Pauldour

The water mill of Oliveira de Azeméis gave the town its own bread, pão de Ul, which remains a staple here.

A normal winter meal would be lamb or veal roasted in a wood oven, roasted salt cod or rojoada, a bean casserole with potatoes and cold cuts.

Also keep an eye out for Arroz de suã, a rice braised with pork and red wine.

The St. Michael’s Day celebration at the end of September has its own speciality: it’s Papas de São Miguel, a white bean and pork bisque marinated for two days in garlic and red wine.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Oliveira de Azemes, Portugal
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