Ovar, and an elusive church

So, we leave our friends in Óbidos and head north, on our way to Braga. We plan a lunchtime stop to see a church with a very striking appearance, Santa Maria de Valega, in Ovar. Except that it isn’t! We find the centre of Ovar without too much difficulty, and wander around, expecting to see a sign for the church. It doesn’t happen, but we quite like the place and settle down to eat on a quiet square. The Brazilian hot dog is extremely spicy, and we take a moment to Google the church, only to discover that it’s a few kilometres out of town. No problem! We can reroute.

Ovar has a reputation for its azulejo tiles, and we found some beautiful examples in this quiet little town. My friend, Andrew, had suggested a mosaic walking tour, but there was no time for that, even had we been able to find a working Tourist Information office. No matter! The real prize here was Santa Maria da Valego. Hidden in plain sight, in the smallest, most rural of villages.

The church opened at 2.00, and we had a few minutes to walk around the outside, simply gaping at what we saw. So much colour and pattern, as well as the blue and white traditional tiles to which we are used. The adjoining cemetery was huge and beautifully kept.

Construction of the church began in the 18th century, and lasted more than a century. The tiles which make it so remarkable were not added until the 1950s, and are the work of the Aleluia Ceramics factory in nearby Aveiro.

If we were impressed with the facade of the church, our jaws probably dropped as we were invited inside. I have rarely felt so in awe and yet joyful at the same time. The flamboyance of the colours coupled seamlessly with reverence for detail.

It’s never easy to capture these highly polished surfaces on camera, but I simply had to share them as best I could. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you in Braga on Monday.

95 thoughts on “Ovar, and an elusive church

  1. The azulejo tiles are beautiful Jo and the church is absolutely stunning! Thanks for including my walk this week and sorry for my tardiness again – so many things going on here at present. I’m just working my way up along your delightful Portugal tour now! Looks such a lovely trip. Hope all is well and you’re having a good week. It’s about to pour down here but we can’t complain as the autumn weather has been wonderful xx 🙂

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      • I’ve just finished reading your latest posts and got up to date Jo! Your Braga trip looks amazing – a part of the world I don’t know at all so it was good to have your persepctive. Hope you have a lovely time with your friend! I’m off to my weekly German class soon! xx

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  2. Delightful! But oh where does the time drift off to? Seems to be the season for driving hours to go get poked and prodded for various reasons (as the years start to add up!!! 😲) Don’t know if I’ll ever get caught up. HOW. DO. YOU. DO. IT????? 🤔

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  3. How amazing, especially so when you come across it in a smaller, out of the way place. The flying umberella was dangerous. Two black eyes is bad enough but it scares me to think what might have happened.

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  4. I am glad to see that you eventually managed to find the church! It is certainly a sight to behold and well worth a detour 🙂 Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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  5. What an incredible church, Jo. It’s gorgeous. You’ve shown us some beautiful examples of tile in many of your posts, but I think this must be the pinnacle of artistry! Wow! 🙂

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  6. Oh my Lord I’ve never seen anything so astonishing. What a wonderful sights and the photos. Such a pretty town as well. My walks pale in comparison.

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  7. Sorry to hear about the black eyes, but getting attacked by a beach umbrella is the kind of incident you can dine out on for years! Love the church. It’s well worth a detour to find that.

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  8. That church is almost beyond words. I can’t imagine how much work it took to put it together!! It seems as though it would be hard to concentrate on the sermon with all that to look at. 🙂 The shot of the first weird sculpture amuses me because in that shot it appears to have a wild bunch of hair. 🙂 Glad you’re more or less OK!

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    • I think you have a fair point there, Janet. It does dazzle the eyes, but there is a wonderment and glory in the Lord, too. Feeling more like myself this morning, thanks, but I shan’t look in the mirror yet a while.

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      • Glad you’re feeling better, Jo. I agree that you can see the glory of and for God here but for me it’s almost too much. The creators have certainly used the talents given by their Creator to honor Him!

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  9. well as dazzled as I was by both the sunflowers and the church, I went back several times to see the story about the beach umbrella and your black eyes Jo but couldn’t find anything other than the comments. So thanks for the glorious walk – I’m off to your previous post(s) to see about the mishap!

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  10. The church is amazing! Ugh to the black eye, I’ve given myself one or two of those in the past, though by falling. I think my glasses do the damage (once I broke them) which I suppose is a good thing if it stops me hitting my head. Never done it with a beach umbrella though. That’s novel.

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  11. Oh, dear, sorry to hear about the black eye! That’s the problem of having too much to drink. What’s that? Only coffee? 🤔
    I can understand why you had to visit this church, it’s quite something. The quirky artwork in the town is a little odd though, but the azulejo tiles are very nice. Have a lovely weekend and stay away from beach umbrellas!

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  12. They really know a thing or two about mosiacs Jo … and a labour of love all the interior and exterior decoration !
    I rather like the sunflower parade even if they look a little 😦 are they made from metal ?
    Wishing you a lovely weekend without any more umbrella incidents … :/
    xx

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  13. Wow, just wow! And even double wow!! Beautifully stunning or stunningly beautiful? That church is amazing, just absolutely gorgeous – I thought the outside looked nice but the inside is something else. I can imagine it was well worth you going a little out of your way to find it. 🙂 Sorry to read about the black eye, I hope it fades quickly. That beach umbrella should be charged with assault 🙂 At least you can wear sunglasses and won’t look out of place 🙂

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    • You know, Eunice – I won a lot of sympathy today 🤗💟 I managed a bit of flashmob t’ai chi this morning, though it was too warm. Then my other half decided I might be better to not have to cook – especially as it was his favourite prato do dia in our ‘local’ today 🤣❤️. Have a great Bank Hol!

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    • So much a ‘mistura’, small Portuguese towns, Frank. You never know what you will find. We quite liked this one but really couldn’t live there. The church was a complete ‘tour de force’. Stunning! 🤗❤️

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  14. Wow, that is absolutely stunning in an ‘over the top but I love it’ fashion 😮😮 I know what you mean about the reflections making the tiles hard to photograph (I had the same problem with the ones in the Misericórdia in Tavira) but I think you’ve done a great job of capturing them and sharing them with us. I’m so glad you tracked the church down!

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  15. Truly amazing Jo. What an interesting place you now live in. How much longer will you be exploring?Weather looks perfect too. Have a great May. Keep away from those aggressive beach umbrellas 🤭

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  16. As churches go, Jo, I’d have to agree with you and say that one is really impressive. I like colour, and there’s certainly a lot of it there!
    An interesting thing I noticed in your other photos is the one of the king’s head on legs (I’m presuming it’s a king!) – for some reason, it looks really familiar to me, but I don’t know why.
    Happy Saturday, Jo! 🙂

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    • That was our reaction too, Margaret. And the fact that it was so quiet and unoccupied- extraordinary!
      Another sunny one here. Mae Soberana at Loule on Sunday- one of the biggest events of the year and coincidentally Mother’s Day this year. We have a repeat of the flashmob this morning- our t’ai chi leader got the dates wrong last week! Not sure if I’ll be going because I had another of my ‘incidents’ on Wednesday and have a black eye today. When I told my daughter that a beach umbrella had lept up and hit me on the forehead as I sat at a table with a drink she said it could only happen to me. Unfortunately!

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