The azulejo  is one of the most popular and refined expressions of Portuguese art. In many places, azulejos  have become the living memory of  the history and culture of a people, of a city.

Although its origin is not Portuguese but Arabian (al zulaic), the azulejo is one of the most important artistic expressions in our country, especially in the region of Aveiro.

The first works in Aveiro date back from the XV th century, when ceramics became a relevant economical activity in this region. The colours used were blue and white. Colourful azulejos only appeared later.

There aren’t many azulejos left from that period, although we may still find a few in the Convent of Santa Joana, probably dating from the time of its foundation.

Panels with ethnographic, historical or popular figure motives, have given life to naked walls, changing Aveiro into a city full of light and colour.



Born in Tomar on the 17th December 1906, at the age of 14 Fernando Lopes Graça starts working as a pianist  in the Cine-Teatro of Tomar, making his own ‘arrangements’ to the musical pieces he used to play, such as works by Debussy and some contemporary Russian composers.

In 1923, he attends the  Curso Superior do Conservatório of  Lisbon, having as teachers: Adriano Meira (Superior Piano Course), Tomás Borba (Composition) and Luís de Freitas Branco (Musical Science); in 1927, he attends a class for Virtuosi whose teacher was the greatest Portuguese pianist of all times Mestre Vianna da Motta (a former Liszt student).

In 1928 he would also attend the Course of  Historical and Philosophical Science in the University of Lisbon, but he ends up by abandoning it in 1931, as a protest against the repression  on students during an academic strike.

In 1932, the day he, with the highest marks, finished the examinations to become a teacher of solfeggio and piano in the National Conservatory, he is arrested by the political police, is sent to jail and finally moved to Alpiarça.

In 1934 he applies for a scholarship in the music area, in Paris. He wins the contest but the decision of the jury is annulled by order of the political police. In September 1935 he is arrested one more time, and sent to the Forte of Caxias, the prison where political dissidents were kept.

He is liberated in 1937 and goes to Paris, where he studies Composition and Orchestration with Koechlin.

He returns to Portugal in 1939, after having refused the French nationality.

In 1945 he becomes a member of the MUD  (Movement of Democratic Unity)  creating  the Choir of the Grupo Dramático Lisbonense, later the Coro da Academia dos Amadores de Música.

His ‘Portuguese Regional Songs’ and ‘Heroic Songs’ are sung by the choir all over the country.

 At that period he becomes a member of the Portuguese Communist Party.  The repression by the fascist regime grows and becomes more evident.

In the fifties, national orchestras are forbidden to play works by Fernando Lopes Graça, his copyrights as an author are denied to him and his teaching certificate is annulled.

He is the author of a vast literary work with reflexions on Portuguese and contemporary music, but the most important is his musical heritage, with concerts for piano and orchestra, numerous choral pieces of national folkloric inspiration, his ‘Requiem for the Victims of Fascism’ (1979), a cello concert ordered and played for the first time by Rostropovich and his vast number of piano pieces, namely his six sonatas, a reference point in the history of the Portuguese piano music of the 20th century.

On 9th April 1981 he was awarded the Military Order of Santiago and on the 2nd February 1987 he received the  (Grã-Cruz) the Great Cross of the Order of The Infant D. Henrique.

Fernando Lopes Graça died in Cascais, on the 27th November 1994 and is considered one of the greatest Portuguese maestros and composers of the 20th century.



Inspired in the world of plants, the main characteristic of Arte Nova is its waving and asymmetric line, finishing in a movement full of energy. It usually uses bright colours, sometimes creating a sharp  contrast. Natural elements such as lilacs, water plants, young trees and flower buds are frequent motives.

In architecture, Arte Nova is patent through its curvy lines that soften hard angles and the use of construction materials such as iron and glass.

In Portugal this type of art appeared with Francisco Silva Rocha, an architect whose work can be found a little all over the country, but mainly in the central area of Aveiro. It was a little late movement (1907/1909) when compared to the epoch when this type of art appeared in Europe (end of the XIX th century), but its appearance is connected with a period of improvement in the city, due to the construction of the artificial channel that connects the Aveiro lagoon to the sea.

In Portugal, Arte Nova assumed a special decorative characteristic with the use of azulejos painted with colourful plants. Many of the houses built at the time also exhibit beautiful ironwork balconies with wavy flower motives.

In Aveiro, the most representative building of this period is Casa Major Pessoa which, after a complete renovation, now houses the Arte Nova Museum.