What to do in João Pessoa?

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by Vicente Paul By Vicente Paul


Tourist attractions in João Pessoa


This page covers the historic Center of João Pessoa... more infos here:

PART I: Historic center of João Pessoa | PART II: Botanic garden and zoo


What to do in João Pessoa, Paraíba?


Photos of João Pessoa: the historical Center

The João Pessoa Historical Centre was recognized as national heritage of Brazil on 6/12/2007.

The area possesses assets that represent various periods of João Pessoa history, such as the Baroque Church of the Third Order of St. Francisco, the Rococo Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Mannerist Church of Mercy, all of the seventeenth century. 

The colonial and eclectic architecture of the civilian houses, beyond the art-nouveau and art deco, the decades of 20 and 30, predominant in the Square Antenor Navarro and the old Hotel Globe, the first of the city, that has been transformed into a cultural center.

Things to Do in Joao Pessoa, besides the beaches

Amid colonial houses and buildings with baroque characteristics, we can also highlight the architectural ensemble of the Church of St. Francisco and the Convent St. Anthony.

Administered in the past by Franciscan Friars, the Saint Francisco church has a cemetery with Portuguese tiles representing the Stations of the Passion of Christ. To the left of the church is the golden chapel, the image of St. Anthony and sculptures covered with gold.

On the outdoor terrace, is a huge limestone with a cross, which is considered the largest Baroque monument in Latin America.

On the square João Pessoa is located the building of the Legislative Assembly, in very modern architecture, contrasting with the antiquity of the Palace of Redemption (seat of the State Government) and the Court of Justice.

On the square is also situated the building of the former School of Law, site of many historical and political events, which stands out for its beautiful architecture.

On the square Pedro Américo is the Theatre Santa Rosa, opened in 1889 in Baroque style with a Greco-Roman facade, which is one of the oldest theaters in Brazil.

Sobrado Comendador Antônio Santos Coelho (Home of the tiles)

Home of the tiles

It is the former residence of the Commander Antonio Santos Coelho. Construction of the eighteenth century, has as main feature the outer covering with tiles Portuguese blue tones beautiful, brought from Devezas factory in the city of Porto.

Which have not only caused the admiration of visitors, but also the greed of some people, which reached the point of trying to damage the building, intending to take possession of some of these European tiles, a true crime against our artistic heritage.

It is listed by IPHAEP since August 26, 1980. Location: Cons Street. Henriques, No. 159 - Centro.

Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Snows

Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Snows

The first site was built on the hill, still in 1585, the year when the Portuguese arrived in Paraíba. In all, there were three successive temple demolitions, and the current reconstruction identical to the fourth church, conducted by the Vicar Francisco Melo Cavalcanti.

It has a lot of value for the faithful of the parish church built between 1671/73 and demolished in 1686 (Ecclesiasticus Yearbook of North Paraiba, Volume I, 1894, 1907), now Episcopal Church. It was blessed in the last decade of the nineteenth century, in 1881.

Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Snows

It has a basilica plan, ie, it has a central nave covered by a vault of two aisles. The style is eclectic, with elements that resemble the European Romanticism and also the Renaissance art.

Has received the name of Metropolitan Cathedral, but is now known as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Snows. Canon Florentino Barbosa said: "Vistosa and wide, the Cathedral of the Snows has nothing to recommend it as an artistic monument."

Its towers and roofs can be seen in a beautiful composition by the church's bell tower of San Francisco, which is close. Location: Praça Dom Ulrich, s/n - Center.

Gallery of fifteen doors

Galeria das quinze portas

Hotel Globo

The hotel Globo has not always worked in this place because before it was on the street Joao Suassuna, a building constructed in 1912.

The building was demolished, so that the "progress" came to the region, and its owner, Henriques Smith, better known as "Seu" Marinheiro decided to transfer it to Largo Frei São Pedro Gonçalves, about 1928.

The mirrors and crystals of the hotel Globo marked the decades 30 and 50. The property features an eclectic style, heavily influenced by the neoclassical art and art-nouveau with Art Deco decoration.

Hotel Globo

It has hosted, among hundreds of famous people, the future president João Suassuna, when he came to the capital to take power. From its terrace you can watch one of the most beautiful sunset of the city.

It operated until 1982, having been acquired by the State Government in 1988. It has been restored and is now the headquarters of the Commission of the ongoing development of the Commission History Center of João Pessoa.

The Globe Hotel is from 1928 and is classified by historical heritage. It is located in the courtyard of Frei São Pedro Gonçalves, also known simply as Pátio de São Pedro. Location: Place São Pedro Gonçalves, s/n - Centre.

Hotel Globo

View of the historic center of Joao Pessoa

Masonry Branca Dias

In date of January 10, 1918, on the east of João Pessoa, a group of courageous brothers, led by the great Freemason Augusto Simões, founded the Masonic Lodge "Branca Dias".

Under the aspícios of the Grand Orient of Brazil which, in April 15, 1918, awarded him the Charter 942, having its settlement occurred on 13 May 1918.

It is a building of eclectic architectural features, with the addition of the same symbols of the Masonic institution. Location: Av General.. Osorio, No. 128 - Centro.

Masonic Lodge

Church of San Frei Pedro Gonçalves

The "Courtyard of St. Peter" is the only existing with this designation in the city.

Convent of San Pedro Gonçalves: its history dates back to October 2, 1917, when the first stone was blessed by the Bishop of Adauto Miranda Henriques, gift from Camilo governor of the Netherlands, and with an oration of Father Mathias Freire.

It was the residence of the Apostolic and Franciscan school, with the introductory course for students wishing to enter the Franciscan Order. The convent was blessed as a whole 19 March 1919. It is an imposing and beautiful building.

Church of San Frei Pedro Gonçalves

The church of San Pedro Gonçalves was founded in 1843 approximately, and the cornerstone was laid on June 5 that year. Years later, after reconstruction, the temple was handed over to the Franciscans who came to our diocese.

The church was built by the contribution of merchants and sailors who docked there. It’s why it was named early on the Navigators' Church. In December 8, 1860 was blessed on Holy image of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, in stone, in which the saint appeared trampling a snake.

This image was saved from Frederich Geosard galley, which sank on the coast, restored and transported to the site by the British consul Krause. It is located on the square as the Hotel Globo. Location: district Varadouro.

Church and Monastery of Saint Bento

In Baroque Benedictine style, the work began at the arrival of the Benedictines in João Pessoa, when it was still the royal captaincy of Parahyba, about 1590. Built at the invocation of Our Lady of Montserrat, it is part of a greater whole, formed by the monastery itself and the church.

This set, in accordance with the Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute of Paraiba, is one of the most important monuments of the country, in its style and its time: despite the architectural sobriety, this work impresses with its harmony and beauty of lines.

With the departure of the Jesuits, and in view of the need to evangelize the Indians, Feliciano Coelho asked in 1599, the abbot of Olinda, the arrival of the Benedictines, who has donated the land for the construction of the monastery and other necessary buildings.

Church and Monastery of Saint Bento

They were built gradually from Frei Damião, religious sent from Olinda, on a site that measured more than 30 meters. With the persecution of the Dutch, the work was stopped for a long time, knowing that, in 1666, was concluded the first restoration of the convent.

Then the missionaries returned to teach their religion classes and Latin. With the closure of the Benedictine activities in João Pessoa in 1921 because of conflict with the jurisdiction of the 1st bishop of Paraiba, the church remained closed for several years.

The group went through an intense recovery, having closed and reopened their works to the public in 1995.

In a more sober and wider spaces architecture, the convent has a broad church where classical music concerts are performed and sung Masses, and its biggest attraction is a metal rooster on top and the bell tower guarding the city for centuries. Location: Av General Osório, s/n.

Church and Ensemble San Francisco Top of page

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

The Cultural Center works in an architectural complex formed by the Church of San Francisco and the Convent of St. Anthony, more the Chapel of the Third Order of St. Francisco, the Chapel of St. Benedict, to the Third House of Prayer (called the Golden Chapel).

It contains the cloister of the third order, a fountain and a large atrium with a cruise, being one of the most remarkable testimonies of the Baroque in Brazil.

Because of its importance, it was listed by IPHAN in 1952. When founded the church was dedicated to St. Anthony, and apparently the name change happened in the twentieth century, under a popular custom, but it is still also known by the former name.

Its origins date back to the arrival on the scene, in 1588, of Friar Melchior de Santa Catarina, responsible for installing a Franciscan mission.

The convent became the largest Franciscan center north of Pernambuco, having a decisive role in the exploration and occupation of the region through missionary and cultural work of the friars. Its interior decoration has several allegories referring to this role.

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

The architectural complex was considered by Germain Bazin as the most perfect representative of the Franciscan school of northeastern Brazil architecture. His style is Baroque-Rococo.

The ceiling of the church is decorated with one of the most important illusionistic paintings of architecture of the Brazilian Baroque, showing the scene of the Glorification of the Saints Franciscans.

Carla Mary Oliveira researcher in two studies, advocated the theory that the author must be Manuel de Jesus Pinto, but there have also been proposed the names of José Soares de Araújo and José Teófilo de Jesus. Other areas also have important painted ceilings.

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

Today, the cloister is the oldest part, completed around 1730. It reveals the Moorish influence and consists of a square courtyard surrounded by a covered gallery leading to the bedrooms. Its tiles on the side walls are decorated with plant motifs.

Inside the church, and in the large atrium there are also several large tile panels. The first depicts the story of Joseph of Egypt, and in the second, represent scenes from the Passion of Christ.

The facade, in staggered triangles, with a porch of five arches at the base, is decorated with floral motifs, mainly cashew nuts, a common tree in the northeast. The pulpit of the church was considered by UNESCO unique in the world by the splendor of his sculptures.

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

Church and Ensemble San Francisco

Square Anthenor Navarro Top of page

It arises from housing developments promoted in the area during the late twenties (sec. XX) and early '30s, where a set of two houses and three floors, which operated a pharmacy, a pension and other institutions commercial and residential.

They have been demolished to make way for an available area designed to be a square with jambeiros, banks and small spaces for meetings and interaction of the inhabitants of local residences, which were handed over to the population in 1933.

The houses that make up its sides are of the same period. There were business houses with ground pavement and the offices of top professionals to the upper floors. All have the same characteristic of Architecture eclectic, with some specimens of Art Deco. Location: Center.

Square Anthenor Navarro

Court of Justice

Built between 1917 and 1919 in the current square João Pessoa, it was intended for the operation of the Court. With neoclassical features, the building was designed, according to the governor Camilo de Holanda, the Normal School, and she remained there until 1939.

At that time, the building has undergone internal reform and lost part of neoclassical features to accommodate the Court, who worked in the buildings of the Governor's Palace, and then to welcome the former high school Parahybana (former Jesuit).

In the entrance hall of the Court, is the crypt where the remains of former President native of Paraiba, Epitácio Pessoa, and his wife. It is classified by IPHAEP.

Court of Justice

Faculty of Medical Sciences

Faculty of Medical Sciences

Convent Church of Our Lady of Carmo

The monastery includes the Church of Our Lady of Carmo, the Church of Santa Tereza and the Archdiocese / Episcopal Palace of Paraiba. Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

In the Roman Baroque style, the church has a single tower, with the characteristics of the sixteenth century. Built XVI century around 1592, to serve as a convent, the Chapel of the Third Order remains intact, although there was a restoration in 1763.

Many historical details about this set is lost since, with the Dutch invasion, there was persecution Carmelites, who buried their documents. Its facade is all stone, as well as carvings and reliefs of the altar, with the same baroque elements of the Episcopal Palace.

The nave is large and majestic, with floral motifs carved into limestone. We also see the coat of arms of the Order of Mount Carmel and a large panel in the high altar with the initials of N. Senhora do Carmo.

The exterior features austere lines, drawings and baroque flourishes. The Carmelites came to Paraíba at the request of D. Henriques, in about 1580.

Convent Church of Our Lady of Carmo

Church of St. Teresa of Avila (the little chapel on the right): it is an eighteenth century building, attached to the church N. Sra. Do Carmo, highlighting their inner artistic wealth.

His whole liner boasts impressive figures of high artistic value; its high reliefs are covered with gold leaf, especially in the main chapel, and the walls have gilded carvings in the same style as the nearby church.

It also has three altars and vestry has a beautiful porch. It was completed in 1777 by Friar Manuel of Santa Tereza. Location: Place Dom Adauto.

Episcopal Palace

The bishop's residence is the seat of the Archdiocese of Paraiba, also known as the Bishop's Palace, appeared around 1591 and was originally called the Carmelite convent.

It forms an architectural block with the church of Carme and the Church of St. Teresa of Jesus. In the palace stand out litho-cutting works, carved in limestone, which enhance its baroque style.

Episcopal Palace

Santa Rosa Theater

It was inaugurated November 3, 1889 and received the name of the then president of Paraiba Francisco da Gama Rose. The Minister took the opportunity to inaugurate the theater on the eve of losing the mandate, just twelve days after the Republic have been proclaimed.

In more than 116 years, the theater has undergone several reforms, but none has changed its architectural style (Greco-Roman), with wooden lining, type "Pinho de Riga".

The theater has 432 seats and its last major renovation was dated 1989, the year of its centenary. The theater is located in the plaza Pedro Américo.

Santa Roza Theater

Old Post Office

The Central Agency for Post and Telegraph is where the municipality is currently installed. Built between 1921 and 1926, it is an imposing monument with eclectic architectural features, which opened in 1927. It is classified by Iphaep and is located on the square Pedro Américo.

Old Post Office

Captaincy of Military Police

Headquarters of the General Command of the Military Police of Paraíba, located on the square Pedro Américo.

Captaincy of Military Police

Academy of Commerce

Opened in 1922, the building is listed by Iphaep because of its historical value. The building was renovated under the government of Rui Carneiro in 1940, and has eclectic architecture.

Its windows and panels are combined with arches, and the upper floor have banners with frames in art nouveau style.

Academy of Commerce

Paraiba Palace Hotel

Unique example of Venetian architecture in João Pessoa, he was considered the "point" of meeting the elite of Paraiba between 1930 and 1960. It received high society, athletes, artists and politicians of that time. It is located at the place dénomé "Cem Reis".

Paraiba Palace Hotel

Jesuit Ensemble

The Palace of Redemption is located on the square João Pessoa, and hosts the headquarters of the executive of the state.

The building housed the School of Paraíba and the Normal School and was the temporary seat of government and its agencies. Currently, in addition to the executive, it houses the Faculty of Law, UFPB.

Built in 1586 by the Jesuits, the first missionaries to arrive in Paraíba, the building was originally used as a residence of the Ignatian (order founded in 1540 by Ignatius of Loyola). The Jesuit house was part of the whole convent with the chapel and school.

The chapel was destroyed in 1929 to make room for today’s gardens. The convent was implanted at the same time as the start of catechesis of the Indians, and was implanted there to be closer to the village of chief Piragibe (island of the bishop).

The Jesuits were expelled in 1593 by the Marquis of Pombal, back in 1708, they were again expelled in 1760 because of friction with the authorities in order to defend the Indians.

Jesuit Ensemble


References: Wikipedia

PART I: Historic center of João Pessoa | PART II: Botanic garden and zoo

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