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 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 municipality 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.

Get in

By car

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.

By plane

Basílica de Nossa Senhora Aparecida.

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.

By bus

There are about 2 intercity buses per hour from São Paulo (2:20 hours 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.


Our Lady of Aparecida, one of the main symbols of Catholic faith in Brazil.
  • 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 originally found decapitated in a river in 1717. Recent studies show that it was likely crafted by Frei Agostinho de Jesus in the XVII century. The characteristic crown and blue cap of the image was given by Princess Isabel of Brazil in 1888.


Go next

Routes through Aparecida

São José dos Campos Pindamonhangaba  S  N  Guaratinguetá Resende

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