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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.
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Points of Interest in Aparecida
- 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 thousand square meters, is obviously 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.
- Basílica Velha de Nossa Senhora Aparecida, Praça Nossa Senhora de Aparecida, 313, ☎ (12) 3105-2317 / 3105-1502. Inagurated 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. 08-12AM, 02-05PM (except tuesdays). 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.
- 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.
In 1717, fishers from Guaratinguetá found a broken terracotta statue of the Virgin Mary at the Paraíba river (likely sculpted in the XVII 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 munipality in 1928, and one year later, the pope Pio XI declared Our Lady of Aparecida as the patroness of Brazil. The temple that currently hosts the statue of the saint, the Basílica Nova, started being constructed in 1955, being declared a National Sanctuary in 1984.
- Feira da Avenida Monumental, Av. Papa João Paulo II (Av. Monumental). sat-sun. 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), e-mail: 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.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Aparecida on Wikivoyage.