One of the main tourist destinations in the state of São Paulo, Aparecida, is proud to have the largest sanctuary in the world dedicated to Our Lady. And those who think that the intense movement takes place only on October 12 — the date on which is celebrated the day of the patroness saint of Brazil — are mistaken, as tourists frequent the city all year round in search of peace, tranquility, culture and a unique meeting with faith.

The Land of the Patroness Saint of Brazil, located in the Vale do Paraíba region, is 168 km from São Paulo and offers leisure, relaxation and culture for all ages. December, as Christmas approaches, is an even more special time to visit the city. With tourist attractions that please different ages, styles and tastes, always valuing faith and devotion to Our Lady of Aparecida, the place enchants visitors who, at the end of the trip, promise to return again and again.

You can’t talk about Northern Aparecida and not mention the religiosity that accompanies its origin and surroundings. The city’s history reflects the various miracles reported and the faithful pilgrims who have visited it for centuries. In Aparecida, the first church was built in 1745 to house the image of Our Lady, the “Old Basilica”, and around it the first faithful and residents settled.

It was only in the middle of the 20th century that the current Basilica was built, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida Patroness of Brazil, considered the second largest Catholic pilgrimage center in the world. The New Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida is the postcard of the city and was inaugurated in 1955, as well as visited by Pope Benedict in 2007. Built in the shape of a cross, all in visible brick, it has a capacity for 45 thousand people and is visible from the Via Dutra, the road that connects São Paulo to Rio.

The millions of annual visits made the municipality one of the main tourist centers in Brazil. For hiking and cycling enthusiasts, the region offers the Path of Faith, a 497 km pilgrimage, between Águas da Prata and Aparecida, passing through Serra da Mantiqueira. The route is signposted and crosses villages, woods, trails and stretches of road. On average, the entire route is done between 17 and 20 days on foot; and between 8 and 10 by bicycle.

Among the attractions for visitors is the Bontur – Aerial Cable Car, which offers a beautiful panoramic view of the National Sanctuary and also of the city. Tourists who want to get to know the river, where the two fishermen met Our Lady of Conception Appeared, should go to Balsa Porto Itaguaçu, which has a guide to report the detailed information of the historic day.

However, the city also has more conventional tourist attractions, with no religious appeal, such as the Aquarium of Aparecida, an unmissable tour. In the pool, the visitor can touch the sharks and learn about other species of fresh and saltwater. This must-see destination in the state of São Paulo can now enter your travel list.

* For airline tickets from the United States to Brazil or Latin America, custom travel packages, hotels and alternative stays, as well as Cruises from the United States, contact our travel agent and tour organizer, Magali DaSilva. Phone/WhatsApp 1(323) 428-1963 – email: magali_at_soubrasil.com

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