Visiting Oliveira de Azeméis is a means of being in contact with Nature, with culture, with a priceless architectural heritage, with distinguished people, with breathtaking landscapes and with innovation.
The historic centre displays a wide variety of historical monuments to visit, and walking along it, is to arouse the tourists interest to visit the city and its icons. The surprises are not only to be found in the urban centre but also in the boroughs.
Ferreira de Castro, one of the most representative writers in the Portuguese literature of the 20th century, was born in Ossela, a small village of the Council. At the age of 12, he left his home village, emigrating to Brazil. So hard was the trip that he portrayed it in one of the most translated books in the whole world “A Selva”.
A modern municipality, and one of the most industrialised in the north of Portugal, Oliveira de Azeméis is known to be inhabited since 2000 BC, as evidenced in the old fortresses of Ul and Ossela. The town’s antiquity is also visible in a milestone marking the twelfth mile of the Roman Pathway Braga-Lisboa, which crossed the town.
In the 18th century, in 1799, Oliveira de Azeméis was granted the status of village by queen D. Maria I. It became a town on 16 May 1984, and it is part of District of Aveiro and the Metropolitan Area of Porto. It has 70 thousand inhabitants and consists of 19 boroughs divided into 12 territorial units.
Oliveira de Azeméis can be reached by taking the highways A1, A29, A25 and IC2. If reaching the town coming from the north of Portugal, A32 can also be an option.
If in the town itself the tourist can find reasons to return, imagine in some of the boroughs. Besides the architectonical patrimony, nature welcomes the tourist with breathtaking natural spaces.
At Palmaz, the banks of the river “Caima” are one of the calmest places to enjoy silence and tranquillity on one’s own or with family. There, in almost complete silence, in a truly magical place, the flora and fauna can be appreciated as well as the calm waters of the river.
At Ul, at the Windmill Thematic Park, which consists of the Watermill Museum and the Bread Museum, visitors are introduced to the watermills used to grind the cereals and husk rice. It’s here that the famous “Ul bread” is produced and can be tasted as well as the traditional “regueifa” (sweet bread). These products are part of the local gastronomy and cooked in the traditional firewood oven.
This industrial heritage is not only a touristic attraction but it also plays an educational role, targeting adults but particularly aimed at children.
It would be unforgivable not to visit La-Salette Park. Tourists are astonished by its beauty, tranquillity, romanticism and religiosity. At the town park there are several viewpoints, enabling the visitor to enjoy the surrounding scenery.
In the heart of the park lies the majestic La-Salette Chapel, where thousands of people pray during the festivities held in August, in honour of Our Lady of La-Salette.
Another worth visiting spot before leaving the park, is “Berço Vidreiro” (The museum of Glass), where glass is produced as it was five centuries ago. It was the first glass producing factory in the country and is now part of the Centre of Glass Interpretation, a space which pays tribute to the glass producing industry of Oliveira de Azeméis and perpetuates its memory.
Also integrating this roadmap is the House of Ferreira de Castro, situated in the borough of Ossela. This humble house, where the writer was born is now a museum. Visiting it enables the tourist to feel the countryside atmosphere, in which one of the greatest writers of the 20th century lived. Humbleness is visible in the simplicity of the building. However, inside contrasting with this simplicity stand out some paintings offered to the writer by renowned painters. It is also possible to see the suitcase he carried and the shoes he wore, when in 1939, he set off.
Once you reach the town centre, buildings with high architectural value dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries stand out in Bento Carqueja and António Alegria streets.
The town church, built in the beginning of the 18th century, the ‘Paços do Concelho’ building, the house of the Côrte-Real, and the Sequeira Monterroso house are worth a visit. It was in the latter that by the end of the 19th century one out of the 23 mail coach posts that linked Porto to Lisbon, was set up.
The milestone, the Martyr fountain, “Bento Carqueja” house, the sculptures praising both this town benefactor and Ferreira de Castro, the Côrte-Real house, building from the 17th century adorned with a coat of arms, the local museum of Oliveira de Azeméis and Manuel Brandão “Brazilian house”, near the Town Square “Praça de Cidade”, are other landmarks to pay a visit to.
Throughout the council a visitor can admire several of such houses. These “sui generis” houses were built by former Brazilian emigrants displaying their social and economical status.
Not too far from the town, in the southern boundaries of the council, stands the village of Pinheiro da Bemposta, one of the richest boroughs in terms of heritage. Some examples are: the ‘Pelourinho’ , a 16th century monument, the ‘Paços do Antigo Concelho’ building created by charter in 1514 and extinguished in 1855, and manor houses owned by noble families, built in the style of the houses of the 17th and 18th centuries.
In the historical centre of the village the “Bemposta” fountain can be admired and a bit farther, in the centre of the village the “Cruzeiro do Senhor Coberto” (cross in granite), which is a national monument since 1910, can be seen.
Amongst the cultural events organised, in May, the recreation of the market as it was traditionally held stands out. Alongside, is held the Spring Cycle, which consists of a series of cultural events.
Carrying out national and international sporting events, namely Futsal, Roller Rink Hockey, Cycling and BTT attracts thousands of visitors to town, projecting the council national and internationally, and therefore boosting the local economy.
The biggest Stick is on display in Oliveira de Azeméis, and it is a symbol that celebrates the 36th Rink Hockey World Championship held in this town in 2003.
The municipality has its brand “Azeméis” spread all over the country and throughout the world due to its industries.
Oliveira de Azeméis is a modern municipality, characterized by its vocation to export. Innovation and knowledge are the basis for its industrial achievements. There are also successful businessmen whose products leave a mark due to their quality.
The national and international projection of the companies makes a difference as a result of the entrepreneurship and persistence of the industrials and also because of geographically being situated near the University of Aveiro and investigation centres. Products originating from Oliveira de Azeméis can be found all over the world.
In the Council, industries produce moulds (plastics and parts for the automobile industries), footwear, metalworking, food and agriculture products (dairy products, rice husking and packaging) mattresses and metal crockery.
The companies count on a variety of hotels, equipped for business tourism purposes, offering accommodation and rooms prepared for seminars and colloquiums.
Those who visit the council, have at their disposal a wide offer in terms of gastronomy. The “Ul Bread” and the “Regueifa” are the first options. Other suggestions would be the “Arroz de Febras” from Cesar, roast lamb, “Arroz de ossos da suã” and “Rojões” .Widening the suggestions, the “Anho à moda de Fajões”, the “Bacalhoada” and the “Papas de S. Miguel” are also very tasty traditional dishes.
There are some exquisite pastry offers such as the dry biscuits “Zamacóis” and the “Beijinhos de Azeméis”. The “Queijadinhas” made of carrots, the “Formigos” and the “Rabanadas” from Cesar are also highly appreciated.
Concerning handicraft work the production of handmade glass, copper, religious art, basketwork and the typical bags made of stripes typical from Cucujães are the most representative.
Culturally, Oliveira de Azeméis is a lively town.
There are tens of festivities throughout the year. The festivity in honour of Our Lady of La-Salette is the highlight of such festivities. The cultural dynamism of the council extends itself to folk dancing, music and counts with the existence of two hundred associations.
However, it´s in the area of humanities, that Oliveira de Azeméis prides itself on having a relevant cultural patrimony. Writers like Ferreira de Castro, born in Ossela, left a mark on the Portuguese Literature of the 20th century. The book “A Selva”, in particular, was translated all over the world but other books such as “Os Imigrantes” and “ Criminoso por ambição”, which was his first novel are also relevant pieces of work.
Opposite the House-Museum, celebrating the writer, the “Ferreira de Castro Library” can also be visited. It’s in the borough of Ossela that the literary itinerary “Caminhos Ferreira de Castro” was developed. It consists of a 13- kilometre-walking path linking 34 stations, each representing a moment in the cultural life of the writer, bringing to life the paths, the places, the landscapes and the feelings he once experienced.