João Pessoa in Paraíba – Sights and Historic Center

João Pessoa in Paraíba
João Pessoa in Paraíba

Tourists who come to João Pessoa in the Paraíba they find, in addition to sun and beach, a tranquility that contrasts with the bustle of the big cities of the South and even the big capitals of the Northeast.

There were several names by which the piece of land that stretches between the Sanhauá River and the Atlantic Ocean was called.

In 1585, the year the city was founded, it was called Nossa Senhora das Neves; in 1588, it became known as Filipéia, in honor of the then king of Portugal and Spain, Filipe I.

With the Dutch invasion, in the year 1634, it received the name Frederica, in allusion to Prince Frederick of Orange.

After the invaders were expelled, in 1654, it gained the name of Paraíba – which in Tupi means “arm of the sea”.

Finally, in 1930, the city was named after its governor, whose assassination that year caused intense popular commotion and national repercussions.

The generous presence of the sun and the sea calmed by the reefs make this capital of so many names an irresistible tourist destination.

The beaches invite whole families to take a walk or a leisurely swim at sunrise or late afternoon; the shore is protected by a law that prohibits the construction of buildings with more than four floors – a wise measure that guarantees sunlight on the beaches throughout the day.

Historic Center of João Pessoa
Historic Center of João Pessoa

In addition to the natural beauties, the capital of Paraíba has a charming set of baroque buildings, and good spots for buying regional handicrafts.

João Pessoa, which is 120 kilometers from Recife and 180 from Natal, is reached by the BR-101.

Videos Sights and Historic Center of João Pessoa PB

Sights of João Pessoa PB

Beaches of João Pessoa PB

O João Pessoa Coast it has the popular beaches of Cabo Branco, Tambaú, Manaíra and Bessa. Sidewalks that allow for hiking or walking.

Bike paths that offer the practice of activities such as cycling, skating and skating. In addition, it is from these beaches that the nautical tours depart to the Seixas Natural Pools, Picãozinho and Bessa Natural Pools.

On Bessa beach, there is also the possibility of activities in kayaks and Stand Up Paddle – the latter can be performed, even during the night shift. But, all of them in line with the tide table.

map of the beaches of João Pessoa PB
map of the beaches of João Pessoa PB

The calm waters of João Pessoa beaches – largely the result of a natural breakwater formed by reefs – are the end of a scenario increasingly sought after by tourists visiting the Northeast.

Tambau Beach, the city's central beach, bustles with the movement of hotels, bars, kiosks and street vendors.

In its wide stretch of sand, residents and visitors walk, run, play football and cool ox. In summer, the sea dries up in such a way that it is possible to glimpse the so-called “Picãozinho”, a formation of corals.

North of Tambaú, and without leaving much difference from it, are the urban beaches of Manaira and Bessa.

In the opposite direction, the first beach near Tambaú is Cabo Branco, which in the late afternoons is also taken by people willing to walk, run or play ball; in the morning, between 5 am and 8 am, the avenue that runs along the beach is closed for residents and visitors to walk with their children, rollerblade and exercise.

In Ponta do Seixas is the Cabo Branco Lighthouse, the most eastern point of South America; from the top you have a magnificent view of the city's edge.

Mandatory program during the day, the place should be avoided at night, when it becomes unsafe. Still towards the south, the beach following Ponta do Seixas is Penha, very popular in João Pessoa.

In it is located the famous church whose stairs continue to receive promise payers, who insist on climbing them on their knees.

Historic Center of João Pessoa

The Historic Center of João Pessoa is located in the city of João Pessoa, capital of the Brazilian state of Paraíba.

It was recognized as a national heritage of Brazil on December 6, 2007, having been inscribed in the Books of Historic and Archaeological, Ethnographic and Landscape Heritage, by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (Iphan).

37 hectares of land have been listed and an estimated 700 buildings, in addition to streets, squares and historic parks that make up this set, comprising most of the Varadouro and downtown districts.

Its buildings make up a scenario of different styles and eras, full of houses, squares, colonial houses and secular churches, being considered the main architectural collection of Paraíba, reporting the various phases of local history, and one of the largest and most important historical sites in Brazil .

Historic Center of João Pessoa PB
Historic Center of João Pessoa PB

The delimited area has assets that represent various periods in the history of João Pessoa, such as the baroque of the Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco; the Rococo Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo; the Mannerist style of Igreja da Misericórdia, all from the 20th century; of the colonial and eclectic architecture of the civil houses, in addition to the art-nouveau and art-deco, of the 30s and XNUMXs, predominant in Praça Antenor Navarro and in the former Hotel Globo, the first in the city, today transformed into a cultural center.

Amidst colonial mansions and buildings with baroque characteristics, the architectural ensemble of the Church of São Francisco and the Convent of Santo Antônio also stands out.

Administered in the past by Franciscan friars, the Church of São Francisco has a forecourt with Portuguese tiles representing the stations of the Passion of Christ.

Map of João Pessoa PB
Map of João Pessoa PB

To the left of the church is the Golden Chapel, with an image of Saint Anthony and gold-coated carvings. In the external patio, there is an immense limestone cross, which is considered the largest monument in Baroque style in Latin America.

In Praça João Pessoa is located the building of the Legislative Assembly, in very modern architecture, contrasting with the antiquity of the Palácio da Redenção (headquarters of the State Government) and the Court of Justice.

tourist map of João Pessoa in Paraíba
tourist map of João Pessoa in Paraíba

In the square is also located the building of the former Faculty of Law, site of many historical and political events, which stands out for its beautiful architecture.

The Teatro Santa Roza, inaugurated in 1889, is located in Praça Pedro Américo, in Baroque style with a Greco-Roman façade and one of the oldest theaters in Brazil.

Tourist Points of the Historic Center of João Pessoa


Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo in João Pessoa PB
Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo in João Pessoa PB

The Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo, located in the Historic Center of the city, in Praça Dom Adauto, comprises an architectural complex, built by the Carmelites, consisting of the Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo, the Episcopal Palace (former Carmelite Convent and current seat of the Archdiocese da Paraíba), both built in the XNUMXth century and listed by the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico do Estado da Paraíba (Iphaep), and by the Church of Santa Teresa de Jesus da Ordem Terceira do Carmo, dating from the XNUMXth century and listed by the Instituto do Patrimônio National Historical and Artistic (Iphan).

The religious order of the Carmelites arrived in the State of Paraíba probably in 1591, together with the Benedictines, Franciscans and Jesuits, with the aim of evangelizing and catechizing the Indians.

At the end of the XNUMXth century, the Carmelites began to build their own house in Paraíba. The completion of the work took a long time, including the Convento do Carmo, the church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo, the chapel of Santa Teresa and the exercise house of the Third Brothers.

The Carmelite ensemble was only ready in the XNUMXth century when, according to historical records, Friar Manuel de Santa Teresa finished the works using his own resources.

Address: Praça Dom Adauto, s/n – Centro


Basilica Nossa Senhora das Neves in João Pessoa PB
Basilica Nossa Senhora das Neves in João Pessoa PB

The Basilica Nossa Senhora das Neves was built in 1586 by the first settlers of Paraíba as a way of honoring Nossa Senhora das Neves.

It was a simple rammed earth building that was rebuilt in the early XNUMXth century. The works and reforms continued throughout the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries.

In 1881 the church began to be rebuilt, taking on the eclectic style it has today. The consecration took place on August 1, 1894, already with the title of Cathedral, since the Diocese of Paraíba had been created, on March 04, with headquarters in the Church of Nossa Senhora das Neves.

In 1914, the diocese was elevated to the title of Archdiocese and Metropolitan See. During the episcopate of Dom Marcelo Pinto Carvalheira (1995-2004), the Cathedral underwent a major renovation and received the title, in November 1997, of Basilica.

Address: Praça Dom Ulrico, s/n – Centro


Monastery of São Bento in João Pessoa PB
Monastery of São Bento in João Pessoa PB

The São Bento Monastery, located in the Historic Center of João Pessoa, is a baroque-style complex, built by Benedictine monks, formed by the monastery and the church, considered one of the most important in Brazil.

The construction of the monastery dates from the 10th century, and the church from the 1957th century, which was listed by the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (Iphan) on January XNUMX, XNUMX.

In 1995, the ensemble was restored and, currently, music concerts and sung masses are held inside.

The Ensemble, formed by the church and the monastery, was built under the invocation of Nossa Senhora do Monte Serrat. The work began when the Benedictines arrived in João Pessoa, at the time when the State was the Royal Captaincy of Paraíba, around 1590.

After the construction, it became one of the first and main places for religious cults established in João Pessoa. And, according to Iphan, this set is among the most important monuments in the country, in its style and time.

Av. Gen. Osorio - Center


Antenor Navarro Square in João Pessoa PB
Antenor Navarro Square in João Pessoa PB

It constitutes the beginning of Rua Maciel Pinheiro. It arose from urbanization promoted in the area during the late twenties (1930th century) and early 1933s, where a set of two- and three-story townhouses where a pharmacy, a pension and other commercial and residential establishments were located. demolished, giving way to a free area to be conceived as a square with jambeiros, benches and short walks for meetings and interaction of residents of local residences, being handed over to the population in XNUMX.

The houses that make up its sides are from the same period. In this one, commercial houses were installed on the ground floor and offices of the best liberal professionals on the upper floor. The buildings present eclectic architecture, with some examples in art-decor.

It currently houses the João Pessoa Cultural Foundation (FUNJOPE) and cultural centers. In 1998, a revitalization was carried out in its place. In its proximity there is the triangular block known as “iron-de-iror”. For those who like nightlife, Praça Antenor Navarro has become a good option in João Pessoa.

The revitalization of the place brought several bars, cafes, galleries and leisure centers to the city. In addition, it is an environment often requested for photography, with its colorful houses in the houses of the beginning of the XNUMXth century, which makes the place a historic-tourist center.

Location: Historic Center of João Pessoa – PB

Construction year: Late 1920s



Around this square stand the buildings of state power.

The highlight is the Palácio da Redenção, seat of government.

The building, which holds the ashes of João Pessoa, was built by the Jesuits in 1586, and over time it underwent a series of interventions – the last of which was the removal, in 1995, of the mosaic floor decorated with swastikas.

Next to it is the Faculty of Law of Paraíba, which operates in the former building of the Liceu Paraíbano, inaugurated in 1745.

On the opposite side of the square is the Court of Justice, whose building, dated 1919 and listed by the State Historical Heritage Institute, houses the crypt of former president Epitácio Pessoa in the basement. It is open to monitored visitation in the morning.


São Frei Pedro Gonçalves Church in João Pessoa PB
São Frei Pedro Gonçalves Church

The primitive chapel of São Frei Pedro Gonçalves was built in the 1843th century and demolished in 1916; the church that replaced it on the site was altered in XNUMX, which determined its current appearance.

In 2002, a restoration found the first foundations, now exposed to visitors (Largo Frei Pedrp Gonҫalves, s/n, Varadouro).

In the church square, on the left, there is another João Pessoa landmark, the Hotel Globo building, from 1929. The building, where the Spanish consulate is located today, has neoclassical and art deco influences.

The best time to visit the square is at dusk, when the sun casts an orange light on the church and the surrounding houses, painting everything in pastel shades. After 18 pm, the place is deserted and unsafe.



The São Francisco Cultural Center works in an architectural complex formed by the Church and Convent of Santo Antônio, the Chapel of the Third Order of São Francisco, the Chapel of São Benedito, the Casa de Oração dos Terceiros (called Capela Dourada), the Cloister da Ordem Terceira, a fountain and a large churchyard with a cross, constituting one of the most remarkable testimonies of the Baroque in Brazil.

Due to its importance, it was listed by IPHAN. When the church was founded, it was dedicated to Santo Antônio, and apparently the name change took place in the early XNUMXth century, by virtue of a popular custom, but it is still known also by the old denomination.


The history of this architectural ensemble – one of the most important in Brazilian Baroque – begins in 1589, when the Franciscans built a rammed earth convent.

In 1602, they began to build, with limestone, the church of São Francisco with baroque architecture.

The date engraved on its frontispiece is 1779; that of the tower is 1783 and that of the churchyard is 1788.

Tourists will be able to forget the dates – but they will hardly be able to erase the interior of this ancient building from their memory: the nave, surrounded by a panel of tiles that depicts the story of José in Egypt, contains a pulpit with beautiful carvings.

The painting on the ceiling shows Saint Elias. On the left side is the Golden Chapel, with the image of Saint Anthony and gold-coated carvings.

In the choir rest beautiful carved rosewood chairs, made in the XNUMXth century, and eight panels from the same period.

Functioning since 1990 as a cultural center, the convent also houses a sacred art museum, a popular art museum and the Stone Gallery, where fragments of rocks from different periods, found during the restoration work, are exposed. San Francisco Square, s/n, Downtown.

See also other features History of the São Francisco Cultural Center in João Pessoa in Paraíba


In addition to the architectural complex of São Francisco and the church of São Frei Pedro Gonçalves, other religious buildings stand out in the capital of Paraíba.

The church of São Bento, from the beginning of the 36th century and listed by Iphan, preserves the baroque façade, although its interior is not characterized (Rua Gal. Osório, XNUMX, Centro).

The church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo, attached to the chapel of Santa Teresa d'Ávila, which is in the process of restoration, is also Baroque; In them, the facade in carved stonework and the rich carving of the interior (Praça D. Adauto, s/n, Centro) stand out.

The parish church of Nossa Senhora das Neves was built in the 1585th century on the same site where, in 1881, the city's first chapel was built. Its eclectic-style façade dates back to a renovation carried out between 1884 and XNUMX (Praa D. Ulrico, s/n, Centro).

Modest and unadorned, the Misericórdia church was built in the XNUMXth century; in the arch of the chapel-mar you can still see the emblem of the Portuguese Crown (Rua Duque de Caxias, s/n, Varadouro).



Perched on a strategically high point, this small fortress, built in 1710, was used as an ammunition depot.

Built in stone, it now houses the Walfredo Rodrigues Photographic Museum, which has a small collection of old images of the city.

The big attraction, however, is the view of the Sanhauá River. Side San Francisco, y/n, Varadouro.



Between the beginning of the works (1853) and the inauguration (1889) 36 years passed, a period in which the theater came to be used as a military infirmary.

When, finally, the neoclassical-style building opened its doors, what was seen were imposing and exquisite installations made of German Riga pine.

Renovated in 1989, the Santa Rosa has a capacity for 418 people. Pedro Américo Square, s/n, Centro.


Inspired by the French visiting Paraíba, businessman Tito Henrique da Silva founded a cashew wine factory in 1892. The production received international awards at the beginning of the 1980th century and continued until the XNUMXs.

Indebted, the factory closed its doors, but all its assets – building, machinery and equipment – ​​were listed by IPHAN. Today, the three blocks of the former company hold presses, barrels and other parts.

There is also the João Pessoa Cultural Heritage Revitalization School Workshop, a civil society that offers restoration courses to teenagers who, after graduation, work to preserve the city's assets. Rua da Areia, 33, Varadouro.


Two of the greatest representatives of Brazilian regionalist literature, José Américo de Almeida (1887-1980) and José Lins do Rego (1901-57), were from Paraíba. The first was born in Areia, and the second in Pilar.

It is understandable, therefore, that both are honored in the state capital with cultural spaces that bear their names.

The Fundação Casa de José Américo de Almeida works in the house where the writer and politician (was governor of Paraíba in 1950) lived from 1953 until his death. There is, in addition to personal objects, his library – concise, but full of bibliography about the Northeast.

Located in Cabo Branco, the residence, facing the sea, marked the beginning of the urbanization process in that part of the seafront.

In addition to taking care of the collection of the novelist of A bagaceira, published in 1928, the foundation is responsible for projects to preserve the state's intangible heritage (Av. Cabo Branco, 3336, Praia do Cabo Branco).

In the José Lins do Rego Cultural Space Convention Center there is a museum dedicated to the author of Menino de engenho (1932) .

Stored in shop windows, manuscripts, books and even the writer's typewriter can be seen at the site. José Lins do Rego spent part of his life in Recife and died in Rio de Janeiro (Rua Abdias Gomes de Almeida, 800, Tambauzinho).

See also other features History of the Foundation of Paraíba and João Pessoa

João Pessoa in Paraíba – Sights and Historic Center – Tourism and Travel Guide


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