João Pessoa is the capital of Paraíba, a state in the northeast region of Brazil and home to some of the most noted Brazilian poets and writers such as Augusto dos Anjos (1884-1908), José Américo de Almeida (1887-1980), José Lins do Rego (1901-1957) and Pedro Américo (1843-1905) (mostly known for his historical paintings). It took its current name in 1930 as a homage to state president (governor) João Pessoa Cavalcanti de Albuquerque, who was assassinated on 26 July of that year. It is the state's largest and most important city, with a population of about 672,000 (about one sixth of the state's population - 2006 estimate). Its metropolitan area comprises eight other satellite cities (Bayeux, Cabedelo, Conde, Lucena, and Santa Rita) and about 384,000 people, reaching more than 1 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area.
It is the capital with the shortest distance from another capital (Recife, PE) which is around away, as well as Natal, RN, North of João Pessoa. Due to the high growing rate of these three capital cities, it is believed that for the next few decades an informal megalopolis will be set up, especially between Recife and João Pessoa.
The capital of Paraíba is one of the oldest in the northeast of the Country. Big theatres, auditoriums and convention centres are part of the available infrastructure in the city; ready to host the most varied types of events and business meetings.
The new Presidente Castro Pinto International Airport connects João Pessoa with many Brazilian cities and also operates some international flights.
The new ESTAÇÃO CIÊNCIA, CULTURA e ARTES (Science, Culture and Art Station) located at the most eastern point of the Americas (Ponta dos Seixas) is both an educational and cultural institution as well as a national landmark. The complex, inaugurated in 2008, was created by world renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and is one of his latest projects.
João Pessoa is one of the oldest cities in Brazil and was founded by the Portuguese in 1585 after wars against the local Indians and the invading French. It had a stormy history and came under Spanish influence when Spain and Portugal were briefly united in the Iberian Union (1580-1640). It was also held by the Dutch for around 20 years in the 17th century. Its name has changed several times and its current name, literally translated as "John Person", dates from 1930. The city's name was altered from Paraiba as a tribute to an assassinated local politician.
In the 16th century, Portuguese settlers from Pernambuco founded Filipéia de Nossa Senhora das Neves (today João Pessoa) at the mouth of the Paraíba River. The area soon proved perfect for sugar production, with the French, the Dutch and the Portuguese all constantly fighting to control the Paraíba region to grow the lucrative sugarcane in. The fortress of Santa Catarina, near João Pessoa, was built by the Portuguese to protect the city from the invading Dutch, who soon became the greatest threat to Portuguese supremacy in Portugal's Colonial Brazil. The Portuguese Empire managed to protect the integrity of the territoriy of Brazil, which become independent from Portugal in 1822.
João Pessoa has many green areas distributed among its avenues, parks, and residential neighborhoods, which all make it very pleasant and support its claim to be "the second greenest city in the world" with more than of forested land, second only to Paris. It was considered thus in 1992, after a survey of urban centres in various countries carried out by the United Nations (source: Embassy of Brazil in the UK).
Worldpress.org notes that "João Pessoa is full of preserved natural forests, squares and gardens, which is why it is considered one of the cities with the highest index of green area per inhabitant in the world. Another beauty of the city is the Ponta do Seixas, the easternmost point of the Americas, which can be seen from the majestic Farol do Cabo Branco (Cabo Branco Lighthouse)" and "natural pools of Picãozinho on the island Areia Vermelha."
The city is home to the Federal University of Paraíba and several other universities and faculties. Below are some of the higher education institutions at João Pessoa:
Espaco Cultural is one of the largest arts centers in the northeast of Brazil. It features modern architecture and is a major cultural venue for the state. Its architectonic complex includes a live concert plaza, convention facilities, movie theater, play theater, art gallery, planetarium, craft stores, and more.
Estacao Ciencia, Cultura e Artes
(Science, Culture and Art Station) [in progress] A project entitled ESTAÇÃO CIÊNCIA, CULTURA e ARTES (Science, Culture and Art Station) by world renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer was recently inaugurated at Ponta do Seixas. The center provides a wide range of cultural and educational activities for locals and turists.
Located in the municipality of Bayeux, eight kilometers from downtown João Pessoa, Presidente Castro Pinto International Airport is currently undergoing expansion and remodeling work, which will raise the terminal’s annual capacity to 860 thousand passengers. The airport is well located in relation to obstacles because it covers an area roughly 65 meters above sea level and is sufficiently distant from urban areas or large real estate developments. The surrounding area is sparsely populated, with large open spaces. The existing developments are industrial with some small weekend country houses. There is no rough terrain or tall buildings nearby creating obstacles for takeoffs and landings. The airport also is blessed with excellent climatic conditions for air operations. Moreover, within its approach radius there are no obstacles that can hinder or create risk for local air traffic. Named for a past president (former name for governors) of Paraíba, Castro Pinto, the airport operates round the clock. The current passenger terminal, built in an area of , has two levels, gardens and ample vehicle parking. It has all the expected amenities: arrival and departure lounges, a main concourse, check-in counters, baggage storage lockers, airline counters, snack bar/restaurant, tourist information booth, car rental agencies, taxi service and private parking. The following national airlines currently fly to and from Joao Pessoa: BRA, Gol, TAM, and Varig. There are several direct flights to Joao Pessoa from airports in the following cities: Guarulhos (SP), Congonhas (SP), Galeao (RJ), Natal (RN), and Brasilia (BR-DF) (As of April, 2008). When flying to Joao Pessoa from abroad, connections are usually made from one of those cities. Some international connections are made in Salvador (BA) and/or Recife (PE) among others.
In the city, public transportation is mostly based on a private bus system, taxis and railways. The city has approximately 500 buses. A single passenger ticket can be used to travel around town and to make connections. There's a major terminal (Terminal de Integração do Varadouro) where passengers can change buses. An electronic ticketing system is being implemented to offer better efficiency to passengers. Currently the bus fare is R$ 1,70, or approximately $ 1 USD, (as of 2008). Extended time or trips in taxis can often be negotiated directly with the driver. For example, a taxi from Campina Grande to João Pessoa, about two hours away, can be taken for about R$ 40, or $ 24 USD, depending on the exchange rate.
Joao Pessoa has a privileged geographic location. It is located in the most eastern point of the Americas and is the second greenest city in the world. Coupled with that, the city has 40 km of tropical beaches. Consequently, tourism is one of João Pessoa's chief economic activities, together with construction, food, metalworking, and other industries. Sugar cane agriculture and related industries are also important. Historically, Tarcisio de Miranda Burity, a former governor, has made major strides to improve the infrastructure of the city and to support the arts. Today, Joao Pessoa has a growing turistic and commercial industry. In fact, the second largest Mall in the Northeast region of Brazil, namely Shopping Manaira, is located in Joao Pessoa.
Joao Pessoa has one publication which highlights its touristic attractions: The Guia Mais Joao Pessoa . Major local newspapers, such as O Correio da Paraiba and O Norte, highlight a wide range of events on a weekly basis. Below are a few of the major attractions.
The easternmost point in South America is there. Here is located the Cabo Branco lighthouse, a landmark of modern lighthouse architectural design.
Cabo Branco Beach
Another urbanised beach in João Pessoa, Cabo Branco has a good promenade for sunset walks.
It is an urban beach, with a promenade and many kiosks. There are regular craft fairs there.
Urban beach, with still waters and many coconut trees. The Paraíba Yacht Club is located there.
With many reefs, the waves are small and there are many kiosks to serve visitors.
Jacare Beach and Its Famous Sunset Over Classic Music
At Jacare Beach several bars stop their Latin rhythms to the classic sound of Ravel's Bolero in order to allow their clients to watch a syncronous live performance of classic music and the sunset on a daily base. Barra do Gramame Beach
Good for bathing, Gramame has still waters and is surrounded by fishermen’s houses.
There are small dunes and mounts of fine and white sand. Cocount trees embellish all the beach margin. The waves are strong and attract a lot of surfers.
Also packed with coconut trees and sand mounts, it attracts plenty of surfers to the strong waves waters.
Barra de Mamanguape Beach
The waves are small, because of the reefs. It shelters the headquarters of a project for the protection of the marine manatee.
Boat trips to Picãozinho
This beautiful place is formed by coral reefs next to the coast. There are natural pools, excellent for bathing during the low tide. It takes 15 minutes by boat to get there.
It is formed by the colonial mansions scattered around the upper and lower regions of the city. The secular architectural complex represents one of the biggest historic treasures in Brazil. To walk on the stone streets contemplating the colourful mansions takes anyone on a trip into the past of João Pessoa.
Theatro Santa Roza
A building from 1889, this theatre was decorated in baroque style. It is one of the oldest theatres in the Country. It is located at Pedro Américo Square.
Erected in 1586, Redenção Palace used to be the home of the old Jesuits convent. Today the building is the State Government headquarters.
Santa Catarina Fortress
The fortress built in 1586 comprises the captain’s house, a chapel and cannons from the XVI century.
Saint Francis Church and Saint Anthony Convent
Totally embellished in baroque style, the church and the convent were built in 1589 and 1779, respectively. The highlights are the chapels of the Third Order of Saint Francis and Saint Benedict, featuring Portuguese ceramic panels and sacristy. The spaces also feature, regularly, popular art exhibitions.
São Frei Pedro Gonçalves Church
Erected in 1843, the church was restored in 2002 and features the foundations from the old XVII century building. In front of it there are many restored colonial mansions, making a pretty architectural set.
Solon de Lucena Park
Located at the commercial centre of the paraibana capital, Solon de Lucena Park, also known as “Lagoa”, is filled with centenary imperial palm trees, golden trumpet trees and acacias – the tree symbol of the city. At the centre there is a luminous fountain, which on party nights lits this delightful tourist spot in João Pessoa.
Arruda Câmara Park
This Park is a real oasis amidst the movement in the Centre of João Pessoa. Also known as “Bica”, because of an old mineral water fountain, it features a zoo, botanic garden and leisure areas. Arruda Câmara Park is certainly one of the most pleasant trips for visitors, bringing together ecology, education and culture.
Cabo Branco Lighthouse
It is located at the easternmost inland point in the Country and allows panoramic views of the city; from there all the Ponta do Seixas beach can be seen.
Museum of Cultural Center of Saint Francis
Permanent exhibition of Religious and Baroque Art. Also, the center offers contemporary art and craft exhibitions. Located in the site of Saint Francis Church.
José Lins do Rego Museum
Located at Espaço Cultural, the museum has a library of over 4000 volumes, photos, letters, honors, manuscripts, and personal objects of Rego, a major paraibano writer.
Casa do Artista Popular
The museum has over 1000 works of crafts representing a wide range of styles developed in the state of Paraiba. The museum also has library and gift shops.
This museum takes its visitor to the history of electricity. The museum shows the types of energy used in the 19th century and ends its display with a contemporary home, fully equipped with electrical appliances and such. Housed at Usina Cultural da Saelpa.
Ocean Museum of Cabedelo
Collection highlights remaining of ships that sank in the area.
Augusto dos Anjos Memorial
Located in Sapé, about from Joao Pessoa, the memorial allows visitors to immerse in the house where this noted paraibano writer lived his childhood and part of his adulthood.
Epitácio Pessoa Museum
(Museu e Cripta de Epitácio Pessoa). The museum houses objects from former Brazilian president Epitácio Pessoa.
Historic Archive of the State of Paraíba
(Arquivo Historico do Estado da Paraiba). Preserves the historic heritage of the state.
José Américo de Almeida Museum
(Museu José Américo de Almeida). The house where lived this noted political figure and write Minister José Américo de Almeida.
Santa Rosa Theatre
Paulo Pontes Theatre in Espaço Cultural
Theatre of Arena in Espaço Cultural
Lima Penante Theatre
Ednaldo do Egypto Theatre
Ariano Suassuna Theatre
Sala de Cultura in Shopping Sul
Multiplex Mag 5 in Mag Shopping
Mutiplex Tambiá 4 in Tambiá Shopping Cine Bangüe in Espaço Cultural
Nucleo de Arte Contemporanea (NAC)
Galeria Usina Cultural Saelpa
Centro Cultural Sao Francisco
Galeria Archidy Picado - Espaço Cultural
Louro e Canela Arte Contemporanea
Galeria de Arte - Zarinha Centro de Cultura
Atelie Martinho Patricio
Atelie Clovis Junior
Atelie Flavio Tavares
Casa Experimental de Arte (Sidney Azevedo, Alena Sa, and Dyogenes Chaves)
Muriçocas do Miramar
(Feb) Main street carnival held in the wednestay prior to official carnival days.
Vem Viver a Paraíba
(Jan - Feb) “Come and Experience Paraiba” is a tourism fair and folklore performance event.
Centro em Cena
(Jan) Art and culture event.
Folia de rua - Prévia Carnavalesca
(Feb) Street carnival a few days prior to official carnival days.
Carnaval da Melhor Idade
(Feb) Carnival for senior citizens.
Auto de Deus
(Apr) Passion Play of the crucifixion of Christ.
São João Pessoa - São João fora de época
(to be announced) One of João Pessoa’s major regional music events.
Feira Brasil mostra Brasil
(Jul) Trade Fair featuring Brazilian products.
Festa das Neves
(Aug) Religious Celebration of the Patroness of the City: Santa Maria Maggiore.
FENART João Pessoa
(Nov) Major fine arts exhibition in the area.
Vaquejada do Cowboy
(Nov) Rodeo-inspired event.
Festa do Atum
(Dec) Popular festival dedicated to the tuna.
(Dec 31) New-Year’s Eve festivities and fireworks at the beach.