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.