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About Ovar


Although there are no known traces of the far past of the territory of Ovar, one thinks it may have been inhabited since prehistory, as it presented favourable conditions for the establishment of primitive human communities, namely a coastline which was very different from what it is today, two lagoon areas, propitious for hunting and fishing, and light soils that were easy to work.

There are only records about the population of Ovar from the 11th century on. As far as we know, the settlement of Ovar was the result of the amalgamation of several nearby villages, being Ovar and Cabanões the most important ones.

A land of farmers, fishermen, salt merchants and artisans, Ovar grew and became more important as time went by, and it was granted a charter by King Manuel I on the 10th February 1514. However, the major boost to population growth in the area took place from the 18th century on, due to a large extent to the introduction of new fishing techniques (Arte Xávega) and fish salting and conservation methods.

The hardships experienced by the inhabitants of Ovar, in their daily struggles, led many of them to migrate. Some spread to several ports along the Portuguese coast (all the way to the Algarve), others trod the difficult and tortuous paths of the Beiras and Trás-os-Montes. The most adventurous ones crossed the Atlantic and took their chances in Brazil.

In the 20th century, with industrialization, which had gained momentum mostly since the 1950’s and 1960’s, Ovar became a totally different municipality, where more than half the active population works in the secondary sector, thus deeply changing the centuries-old rural and fishing framework.

Nowadays, Ovar is an industrial municipality with a very wide range of activities, from the textile and clothing industry to metal industry and the manufacture of metal products, from cooperage to the production of animal feed and rope making, from electrical material to car assembly or the manufacture of components.

In spite of industrial development and the resulting urbanization, Ovar still presents vast areas that are propitious for a wide range of tourist activities: beaches that stretch for miles, surrounded by pine forests, and the unparalleled beauty of the Ria de Aveiro (Aveiro Lagoon) and the Barrinha de Esmoriz (Esmoriz Lagoon).

Currently, in Ovar one aims to obtain a balanced development, with a resulting growth of the sector of trade and services which may ensure the growing well-being of the population. That balanced development, together with the concerns for environmental preservation and urban development, will certainly be one of the factors that will turn Ovar into an increasingly attractive and future-oriented municipality.


Measuring around 1,850 hectares, it is one of the largest European areas of Pinus pinaster in full forest regime. Besides its importance in ecological terms, it is an inviting space for the practice of open air activities, walking or cycling, taking advantage of the municipality’s cycling network and its connection to the beaches. 


A coastal lagoon, considered to be a unique space in Portugal and Europe, given its extraordinary environnmental and landscape qualities of high scientific value. Regarded as a Special Protection Zone of Bird (SPZ), it offers good conditions for birdwathing, and its considerable expanse make site adequate for the practice of several sports, such as rowing, sailign, canoeing, padding or a simple boat trip.


The municipality of Ovar is a privileged territory in many ways, namely because of its wonderful coastal area where, in addition to its beautiful fine white snad beaches, you may find characteristic features of the territory such as the dunes, biophysical occurrences that should be valued and preserved. Along the coast, the sun and the beaches are an incentive for renewed moments of enjoyment. There are countless seaside cafés, bars and restaurants at the disposal of visitors. One should also highlight the exceptional quality of the waves, enjoyed by those who practice water sports, such as surfing and body boarding.


During a traquil walk throug the Centre of Ovar, you may also enjoy some green spaces, ideal for sports and leisure activities. The Urban Park is an emblematic and romantic space, with lawns, free zones and discrete paths linking elements designed to look like ruins. The Park was designed by the architect Sidónio Pardal to promote the town’s connection to the Cáster River and the enhancement of the surrounding area.

Throughout the city there are also several public gardens: Jardim dos Campos, Jardim do Cáster, Jardim dos Combatentes, Jardim Almeida Garrett and Jardim de S. Miguel.


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