Aparecida Tourist Attractions
Situation and CharacteristicsThe pilgrimage center of Aparecida, where Nossa Senhora Aparecida, patroness of Brazil, is venerated, lies in the Paraíba valley, 173km/107mi north-east of São Paulo and 260km/162mi south-west of Rio de Janeiro. It is reached by way of the Presidente Dutra Motorway (BR 116).The town was founded in 1717, when native fishermen from the Rio Paraíba recovered from the sea a small black figure of the Virgin which is credited with wonderworking powers. Aparecida is now the most important pilgrimage center in Brazil.
Basílica NovaThe New Basilica of Nossa Senhora Aparecida, which is linked with the town center by a concrete footbridge, houses a museum of sacred art (2nd floor) and a historical museum (4th floor) which documents the social and economic development ("coffee cycle" and "sugar-cane cycle") of the Paraíba valley. On the 18th floor of the principal tower there is a viewing platform. The complex, which covers an area of 18,000sq.m/21,500sq.yds, draws pilgrims throughout the year, but particularly on October 12th and December 8th, the feast days of Nossa Senhora Aparecida, a 42cm/17in. high figure of whom is venerated here.
São Benedito Festa das CongadasIn addition to the Old and New Basilicas there are a number of other churches in the town, among them the chapels of Santa Rita and Santa Teresinha and the church of São Benedito. The saint's feast-day, also known as the Festa das Congadas (dance plays of African origin which culminate in the crowning of the "Rei do Congo"), is celebrated in São Benedito immediately after Easter Day, when more than forty groups dance and perform in honor of the Virgem do Rosário (Virgin of the Rosary) and St Benedict. There is also a parade of folk figures of the Paraíba valley, João Paulino, Miota and Maria Angu.
Basílica VelhaThe building of the Old Basilica of Nossa Senhora Aparecida was begun in 1745 on the site of an earlier oratory dedicated to her, in what is now Praça Nossa Senhora Aparecida. The church was much extended and rebuilt over the years, and in 1909 was granted the status of a basilica minor by Pope Pius X.
There are a couple of significant Christian sights within a short distance of Aparecida.
Itaguaçu3km/2mi from Aparecida is the river port of Itaguaçu, where the figure of Nossa Senhora Aparecida was found.
Via SacraOn the Morro do Cruzeiro, 2km/1.3mi from the town center, is the Via Sacra (Stations of the Cross).