If you are a fan of the typical Portuguese tiles “azulejos”, then one of the best places to go is to the city of Ovar! By the end of the 19th century, semi-industrial pattern tiles were applied in the facades of most public buildings. They are now seen on privately owned houses. So one could consider Ovar an open-air tile museum.

Ovar - city of tiles

We arrived in this city quite late in the afternoon after a busy morning at Aveiro and Costa Nova Beach. Point to note – try not to fit too much into one day.

After leaving Don at a café to relax, my friend and I visited the Information Centre. We were given an incredible amount of information and booklets of seeing the best tiles and churches the city had to offer (especially in the old centre). Off we went trying to follow the “story” of the history of tiles in Ovar.

Ovar - city of tiles

Point to note. Look at the entire building, then zoom in close to see the intricate detail of the individual tiles. I have used Photoshop here to crop the tile photographs.

Ovar - city of tiles

Ovar - city of tiles

Ovar - tiles collages (5)

Some of the tiles were quite new and colourful, especially the paving stones and various murals throughout the city centre.

Ovar - tiles collages (5)

Even the gutters were made of tiles so it is worth looking up to see these.

Ovar - city of tiles

We walked past five ornate chapels around the old city. All looked very similar and were built in the mid 1700’s.

Ovar - chapel

However, one of the prettiest churhches was of course covered in blue tiles. On closer inspection, each tile was a cross and a chalice.

Ovar - church

Ovar - church

There was also a tile museum which we didn’t have the time to visit but we visited another building with its modern tiled murals. Take the time to look closely at the murals and get close-up photos.

Ovar - mural

Ovar - mural

These large murals were also part of the complex.

Ovar - mural

Couldn’t help but notice that some of the modern buildings were still using the tiled theme.

Ovar - modern tiles

We inquired about some very colourful churches only to be told they were not in Ovar but close by. We only really had time to choose one and drove to see the Igreja Paroquial de Válega.

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

In the quiet village of Válega this 18th-century church might be one of the prettiest in the country. We had obviously parked at the rear of the church and thought we must have the wrong one. However on walking around to the front, a surprise awaited us with this incredibly colourful façade. Even though it was partly under renovation at the time, it still looked spectacular.

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

These multi-coloured tiles extend also into the interior.

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

The tiles were painted in the 20th century so are quite new. The entire walls of the interior are covered in scenes that represent bible passages and are several metres high and wide. Just sit and take it all in before photographing it.  Take lots of close-ups as well.

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

Look up to the beautiful wood ceiling and some very colourful stained glass windows.

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

In front of the church is a massive cemetery with more crosses than I have ever seen in the one cemetery. The mausoleums along the side were also covered in tiles, making them quite unique.

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

By the time we left, the sun was starting to reflect the front façade with a golden glow.

Ovar - Igreja de Valega

What a great way to end an incredible day in Portugal. But then we still had to drive back to Vouzela where we were staying.

Related posts for more places in Portugal

The beautiful walled city of Obidos

Santarem – a city of churches and Gothic architecture

Coimbra – an old university and so much more

Vouzela – what a hidden gem

Viseu – a charming city with so much to see

The beautiful staircases of Braga and Lamego

Bussaco Palace – an enchanting place to stay