Aparecida is a city in the Vale do Paraíba region, in São Paulo state. It is a major Catholic pilgrimage site that gets more than 10 million visitors per year, mostly coming to visit the Basílica de Nossa Senhora Aparecida, the second largest Catholic temple in the World.
In 1717, fishers from Guaratinguetá found a broken terracotta statue of the Virgin Mary at the Paraíba river (likely sculpted in the 17th century). Many local miracles have been attributed to the statue, which in 1734, has been placed in a chapel. The chapel became too small for the amount of visitors that it received, and the construction of a larger church started in 1834.
The village around the chapel was given the name Aparecida (female form of "appeared") and became a district of Guaratinguetá in 1842. The statue was given the name Nossa Senhora de Aparecida (Our Lady of Aparecida) and the larger church that received the statue, nowadays called Basílica Velha, was finished in 1888.
Aparecida became a municipality in 1928, and one year later, the pope Pio XI declared Our Lady of Aparecida as the patroness of Brazil. The temple that hosts the statue of the saint, the Basílica Nova, construction of which began in 1955. It was declared a National Sanctuary in 1984.
Aparecida is between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, easily accessible from the BR-116 (Rodovia Presidente Dutra) (called SP-060 in the São Paulo state). It can be reached in about 2 hours from São Paulo, and 3 hours from Rio de Janeiro.
Aparecida's closest airport with commercial flights is in São José dos Campos, about 1 hour by car. São José dos Campos has about 2 intercity buses per hour to Aparecida.
There are about 2 intercity buses per hour from São Paulo (2 hr 20 min trip, R$ 37.30 as of July 2013), operated by Viação Cometa and Pássaro Marrom. There may be more frequent buses from cities of the Paraíba valley. Buses from Rio de Janeiro are less frequent (every 2 hours or so), and are operated by Viação Sampaio and Expresso Kaiowa.
- 1 Basílica de Nossa Senhora Aparecida (Basílica Nova, Santuário Nacional de Nossa Conceição Aparecida), Avenida Dr. Júlio Prestes, s/n - Bairro Ponte Alta. Inaugurated in 1980, the huge temple, with a 100-m high tower and an area of 23,000 m², is the main attraction of the city. The temple has the shape of a cross and its architect was Benedito Calixto Filho. The tower contains an observation decks that provides nice views of the city, the Paraíba river, and surrounding region.
- Nossa Senhora de Aparecida (Our Lady of Aparecida). The terracotta image of Our Lady of Aparecida, declared by the Roman Catholic Church as "Patroness of Brazil" and one of the main symbols of the Catholic faith in the entire country, was found decapitated in a river in 1717. Studies have shown that it was likely crafted by Frei Agostinho de Jesus in the 17th century. The characteristic crown and blue cap of the image was given by Princess Isabel of Brazil in 1888.
- Basílica Velha de Nossa Senhora Aparecida, Praça Nossa Senhora de Aparecida, 313, ☏ , . Inaugurated in 1888, this Baroque-style church was the previous host of the image of Our Lady of Aparecida. It is generally visited by pilgrims together with the new church.
- Passarela da Fé. The pedestrian bridge that links the Basílica Nova to the Basílica Velha. It offers nice views of the Basílica Nova and of the city.
- Seminário Bom Jesus, Rua Barão do Rio Branco, 412. W-M 08:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00. Catholic seminar in Renaissance-style, constructed in 1894. Also contains a pousada-style hotel.
- Porto Itaguaçu, Access from Av. Itaguassú. The spot in the Paraíba river where the image of Our Lady of Aparecida was presumably found. The place contains a chapel, some monuments, and a few tourist shops. If that doesn't seem much, one can at least take a scenic photo of the Paraíba river with the Basílica in the background.
- 2 Igreja do Senhor do Bonfim. Unless you are part of a Catholic pilgrimage or you are very adventurous, you will hardly have the chance of visiting this XIX century church, in the middle of the rural area of the municipality and only accessible by dirt roads. The church is last remaining building of the Bonfim village, that disappeared with the decline of coffee farming, and is nowadays a stop point for pilgrims from other parts of the Paraíba valley.
- Feira da Avenida Monumental, Av. Papa João Paulo II (Av. Monumental). Sa Su. The traditional (and huge) weekend market, with about 3,500 tents, takes the entire path between the Rodoviária (intercity bus terminal) and the Basílica de Nossa Senhora Aparecida. Here it is possible to buy practically everything, legal or not, related or not with Catholic faith.
- Casa do Pão, Avenida Dr. Júlio Prestes, s/n - Bairro Ponte Alta (Basílica de Nossa Senhora Aparecida), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. You can buy locally-made bread and cakes at this bakery in the underground of the Basílica. It is a social project, with the products made by low income young people in the region.
- Hotel Santo Graal, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Has a nice atmosphere, comfortable rooms and is placed right in front of the Basilica. There is a nice gym, swimming pool, playground, pool bar and restaurant, "gourmet" cafeteria and souvenir shop.
|Routes through Aparecida|
|São José dos Campos ← Pindamonhangaba ←||S N||→ Guaratinguetá → Resende|