Vila Velha Tourist Attractions
The town of Vila Velha (pop. 280,000), the original seat of government of Espírito Santo state, founded in 1535, lies 13km/8mi south of Vitória across Vitória Bay. A number of handsome colonial buildings in the upper town have survived the ravages of time. The lower town is notable principally for its beautiful beaches.
Nossa Senhora da Penha
N.S. da PenhaThe monastery of Nossa Senhora da Penha, prominently situated on a 154m/505ft high crag, was founded in 1558. It contains many Portuguese figures of saints and paintings by the Brazilian artist Benedito Calixto. The Sala dos Milagres ("Hall of Miracles") contains votive offerings from people who have been helped by Nossa Senhora da Penha. The Festa da Penha is celebrated eight days after Easter, when hosts of pilgrims make their way in a nocturnal procession from Vitória to the monastery.
Praia da Costa
Praia da CostaThe Praia da Costa, one of the most beautiful beaches in Espírito Santo, lies 3km/2mi from Vila Velha on the coast to the east. At the end of the beach is the Santa Luzia lighthouse (1871). Nearby is the Morro do Moreno (167m/548ft), a favorite launching-pad for hang-gliders.
Conceicao da Barra, Brazil
Conceição da BarraThe fishing village of Conceição da Barra, where the congo is still danced in African fashion, was founded by freed slaves. The Congo band of Barra do Jucu, formed by local fishermen, is one of the oldest and best known ensembles in Espírito Santo. Beyond the estuary of the Rio Jucu is the Praia da Lage, with a great platform of rock which emerges from the sea at low tide.
Barra do Jucu
The beach of Barra do Jucu, 12km/7.5mi from Vila Velha, is the venue of the Brazilian surfing championship. Here there are the ruins of a Jesuit settlement. A short distance away on the Rodovia do Sol is the Lago Jabaeté, a lake well stocked with fish.
Nossa Senhora do Rosário
N.S. do RosárioOn Praça da Bandeira is the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário (1551).
Itaparica5km/3mi from the town is the beach of Itaparica.
Museu Homero Massena
Museu Homero MassenaOn the Prainha (a section of Avenida Beira-Mar) is the Homero Massena Museum, in the former home of Homero Massena, the most celebrated painter of Espírito Santo. It displays many of his pictures as well as personal mementoes of the artist. In the Prainha Park near the museum a craft fair, at which regional dishes can also be sampled, is held on Fridays and Saturdays.
The beaches to the south of Vila Velha are reached on the Rodovia do Sol (ES 060), which runs from Vila Velha to Marataizes. Nearest to the town is the beach of Itapoã (3km/2mi), where there is a small fishing village.
Jacaranema Forest Reserve
Jacaranema Forest ReserveThe Jacaranema Forest Reserve, through which the Rio Jucu flows, offers a representative cross-section of the flora and fauna of the region.
Ponta de Fruta, Brazil
Ponta de Fruta Lagoa VermelhaThe beach of Ponta de Fruta, on which there is a fishing village, is reached on the Rodovia do Sol (18km/11mi). Between Ponta de Fruta and Barra do Jucu is the Lagoa Vermelha ("Red Lagoon"), also called the Lagoa do Milho.
Praia da Baleia
Praia da BaleiaThe Praia da Baleia ("Whale Beach"), 24km/15mi from Vila Velha, lies close to the beaches north of the bathing resort of Guarapari, which is also on the Rodovia do Sol.