Santos, Brazil

Since its founding by Portuguese explorer Brás Cubas in 1534, Santos has grown to about 450,000 Santistas. This has been home to greatness: the largest exporter of Brazilian coffee, the longest beachfront garden, South America’s biggest seaport and the home field of Pelé, the best footballer in history. You will discover lots more in this Santos travel guide.

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Welcome to Santos, Brazil

Santos (Portuguese for saints) is along the coast in the state of São Paulo. Residents of São Paulo – the largest city in Brazil and the Southern Hemisphere – frequently make the 90 minute drive to Santos to bask in the sunshine along its 4.5 miles of beautiful beaches. The Port of Santos is Latin America’s biggest and welcomes about 40 cruise ships a year. From the Concais Passenger Terminal, the Historical Center is only a few miles away.

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1 Valongo Station for Streetcar Rides in Santos, Brazil

In 1859, Brazilian industrialist Irineu Evangelista de Sousa (better known as the Viscount of Mauá) championed the need to connect São Paulo with the port at Santos by train. The goal was to facilitate coffee exportation. The difficulty was laying a rail over the steep 2,624 foot incline of Serra do Mar (Sea Ridge). A British company accepted the challenge. The São Paulo Railway was finished and this Valongo Station opened in 1867. Today, Estação de Valongo is the departure point for streetcars around Centro Histórico. Tickets are available from the Pelé Museum across the street.

R. São Bento, 392-440 - Valongo, Santos - SP, 11010-121, Brazil
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2 Pelé Museum in Santos, Brazil

Recognize the name Edson Arantes do Nascimento? Probably not. How about Pelé? Of course! The best footballer of all time was voted the World Player of the Century in 1999 along with countless other accolades and awards. He scored 650 goals during his 21-year professional career (1956 – 1977). He was only 15 when he debuted with the Santos Futebol Clube. During his 19 seasons at Santos, the forward helped propel his team to one of the most successful runs in sports during the 20th century. Pelé Museum is your chance to experience The King’s greatness. Among the collection of over 2,300 items of memorabilia are jerseys, trophies and awards.

Largo Marquês de Monte Alegre, 1 - Valongo, Santos - SP, 11010-260, Brazil
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3 Sanctuary of St. Anthony of Valongo in Santos, Brazil

The Sanctuary of St. Anthony of Valongo was founded in 1640 by Franciscan friar Manoel de Santa Maria. This qualifies as one of the oldest churches in Brazil. The exterior is a bit bland, yet the nave has an impressive Baroque design. Above the gilded altar is a fresco ceiling depicting St. Anthony and St. Francis. Along the wall are painted porcelain panels. The Valongo complex includes The Chapel of the Venerable Third Order of Saint Francis, built in 1691, and a wing of the original convent.

R. São Bento, 1640 – Valongo, Santos - SP, 11010-305, Brazil
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4 Tiled Frontier House in Santos, Brazil

After Manoel Joaquim Ferreira Netto immigrated from Portugal to Brazil in 1838, he became a real estate baron in Santos. In 1860, he began converting an old salt warehouse into his plush residence. Casa da Frontaria Azulejada seems delightfully out of context in the city. The former mansion has Mudéjar elements covered with seven thousand Portuguese porcelain tiles. The building was later repurposed as a warehouse, hotel and fertilizer depot. After it was abandoned in 1986 and became decrepit, it was purchased by the city and restored. Inside Tiled Frontier House is an event venue named Cultural Space Frontario Azulejada.

Rua do Comércio, 92 - Centro, Santos - SP, 11010-140, Brazil
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5 Rua do Comércio in Santos, Brazil

Santos was a small coastal town prior to the prosperity created by coffee exportation. After the Franciscans arrived, the Valongo neighborhood expanded during the 17th century. One of its first avenues was Santo Antonio Street (Rua Santo António). Initially, this area was poor. Then it grew into a main commercial district populated with mansions. Now named Rua do Comércio, this street is flanked by some of Santos’ oldest structures.

Rua do Comércio, 113 - Centro, Santos - SP, 11010-122, Brazil
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6 Coffee Museum in Santos, Brazil

The first coffee tree was planted in Brazil in 1727. Within 100 years, the crop became the country’s largest export representing nearly 20% of the world’s production. That dominance grew to 80% during the next century. The most delicious Brazilian coffee is grown on mountain plantations near São Paulo. From 1922 until the 1960s, nearly every bean was auctioned at the Official Coffee Exchange building (Bolsa Oficial de Café). Do not miss visiting the Coffee Museum. The exhibits at Museu do Café are fascinating and informative. The Proclamation Hall is opulent. And you can taste test coffee varieties from around Brazil.

R. Quinze de Novembro, 95 – Centro, Santos - SP 11010-151
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7 Convent of Our Lady of Carmo in Santos, Brazil

Soon after friars from the order of Carmelites arrived in Santos in 1592, they built a convent named Nossa Senhora do Carmo. Their adjacent church dates back to 1599. On the other side of the tower is the Church of the Passion of Christ. This structure was added in 1760 to accommodate worshipers from the Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (also known as Lay Carmelites). The Catholic churches welcome your visit or attendance at daily Mass.

Praça Barão do Rio Branco - Centro, Santos - SP, 11010-040, Brazil
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8 Baron of Rio Branco Square in Santos, Brazil

Barão do Rio Branco Square is named after José Paranhos, the Viscount of Rio Branco (Portuguese for white river). His legacy was successfully negotiating an end to the Uruguayan War against Brazil in 1864 and accomplishing similar diplomacy with Paraguay five years later. In the center of the plaza is a monument to Candido Gaffree and Eduardo Guinle. In 1888, these two businessmen received a 92 year lease along the waterfront. They established the Port of Santos in 1892.

Praça Barão do Rio Branco - Centro, Santos - SP, 11010-040, Brazil
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9 Brás Cubas Monument in Santos, Brazil

At Republic Square (Praça da República) is a monument to Brás Cubas. He was a 16th century Portuguese explorer who arrived in Colonial Brazil in 1531. A dozen years later, after founding a coastal village with an excellent natural seaport, he built a chapel named All Saints. Overtime, this became the name of the city (Santos means saints). Cubas was also twice appointed by King John III of Portugal as the governor of São Vicente, the region around today’s Santos.

Praça da República – Centro, Santos – SP, 11013-030, Brazil
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10 Customs House in Santos, Brazil

Located along the northern edge of Republic Square and on the waterfront of Rio Pedreira is Alfândega da Receita Federal do Brasil. This means the Customs House or Alfandega in Portuguese. This is the administrative headquarters for the Port of Santos.

Praça da República – Centro, Santos – SP, 11013-030, Brazil
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11 Hill of Santa Catarina in Santos, Brazil

Hill of Santa Catarina is considered the origin of Santos. Two successive chapels were here, both honoring Saint Catherine of Alexandria, a 4th century martyr. The first was built by Luís de Góis in 1532. After it was destroyed by English pirate Thomas Cavendish in 1591, a replacement was constructed by Father Alexandre de Gusmão. During the late 19th century, the small church was torn down. In 1900, the hill became the residence of Dr. João Éboli. After decades of deterioration, Outeiro de Santa Catarina was restored in 2000. The historic property houses the Santos Archive and Memory Foundation.

R. Visc. of Rio Branco, 48 - Centro, Santos - SP, 11013-030, Brazil
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12 José Bonifácio Square in Santos, Brazil

The most important square in Santos is Praça Patriarca José Bonifácio. The plaza’s namesake is José Bonifácio de Andrada (1763 – 1838). He was a key figure during the military campaigns against Portugal called the Independence of Brazil (1821 – 1824). The Patriarch of Independence also facilitated the formation of the Empire of Brazil under Emperor Dom Pedro I. The square’s centerpiece is a monument to the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932. Also called the Brazilian Civil War, nearly 2,500 soldiers from the state of São Paulo were killed in battle against the Brazilian army. The bloody conflict stemmed from the assumed presidency of Getúlio Vargas after a coup d’état. This tribute was sculpted by Antelo Del Debbio and erected in 1956.

Praça José Bonifácio - Centro, Santos - SP, 11013-910, Brazil
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13 Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral in Santos, Brazil

The Mother Church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santos is Catedral Nossa Senhora do Rosário. Its Neo-Gothic architecture is very similar to nearby São Paulo Cathedral, yet on a smaller scale. Both were designed by Brazilian architect Maximilian Emil Hehl. The Cathedral of Santos features a single bell tower, a Renaissance-styled dome and three rose windows. Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral was finished in 1967. It is a visual anchor to José Bonifácio Square.

Praça José Bonifácio - Centro, Santos - SP, 11013-910, Brazil
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14 Coliseum Theater in Santos, Brazil

Teatro Coliseu was established in 1897. Twenty-seven years later, the performing arts venue opened at its existing location adjacent to the Santos Cathedral. The entrance hall – with 39 chandeliers and 13 Doric columns – makes a great first impression. The auditorium’s main floor, along with three tiers of U-shaped balconies, has a seating capacity for 1,000. Frequent programs at Coliseum Theater include operas, ballets, musicals, plays and symphony orchestra concerts.

R. Amador Bueno, 237 - Centro, Santos - SP, 11013-153, Brazil
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15 Former Fire Department Now City Hall in Santos, Brazil

You would never guess by looking at this magnificent façade that it was the main barracks for the city’s fire department when it opened in 1909. The design flare of Castelinho (Little Castle) is credited to Maximiliano Emílio Hehl, the same architect who created Santos Cathedral. Nearly a century later, the 6th Fire Brigade moved out and the building was renovated. In 2011, Castelinho became City Hall for the 21-member Santos Municipal Council.

Praça Tenente Mauro Batista de Miranda, 1 - Vila Nova, Santos - SP, 11013-360, Brazil
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16 Cable Car at Monte Serrat in Santos, Brazil

For an uplifting experience, add Monte Serrat to your Santos itinerary. Your excursion begins on a cable car. At the top of the hill is a former casino that operated from 1927 until 1946. Its elevated position provides spectacular 360° views of the city. A historical highlight is Our Lady of Monte Serrat. The chapel was built in 1599. 15 years later, when Santos was invaded by Dutch privateers, they were mercifully crushed by a landslide from the mountain. The miracle was attributed to Our Lady of Mount Serrat. She then became the patron saint of Santos. The black Madonna with Child (often spelled Montserrat) is also a heavenly protector of navigators and the city of Catalonia, Spain.

Praça Corrêa de Melo, 33 - Centro, Santos - SP, 11013-153, Brazil
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17 Window inside Saturnino Palace of Brito in Santos, Brazil

Does visiting a former sanitation commission sound appealing? Probably not. You will want to make an exception for Saturnino Palace of Brito. After walking across a marble floor, you will marvel at the nearly 20 foot high stained glass window titled “Os Bandeirantes” on the staircase. The artwork by Casa Conrado portrays Portuguese pioneers (bandeirantes). During the 17th century, they explored the far interior of today’s Brazil in search of riches. The building is named after Saturnino Rodrigues de Brito. He was the ingenious Father of Sanitary Engineering for Brazil during the early 20th century. His sanitation system was a critical defense against bubonic plague that began in Santos in 1899.

Av. São Francisco, 122 - Centro, Santos - SP, 11013-200, Brazil
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18 Estádio Urbano Caldeira in Santos, Brazil

Avid fans of Brazilian football dream of making a pilgrimage to Estádio Urbano Caldeira. Since 1916, Vila Belmiro Stadium has been home field to the Santos Futebol Clube, an elite member of the Brasileirão league. During their Golden Era (1956 – 1974), several great footballers including Pelé were nicknamed Os Santásticos. They collectively scored over 3,000 goals while winning 25 titles. Tourists enjoy seeing the historical highlights of this illustrious stadium in the Memorial of the Conquest museum.

Rua Princesa Isabel, 77 - Vila Belmiro, Santos - SP, 11075 -501, Brazil
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19 Porchat Island Lookout Point near Santos, Brazil

The southern coastline of Santos is literally defined by sand and a very long row of high-rise apartments, condos and hotels … all facing the Bay of Santos. A great way to get a bird’s-eye-view of this expansive seascape is from the top of Porchat Island in São Vicente. The spade-shaped canopy is the Oscar Niemeyer Lookout (mirante in Portugese). The observation point is named for the Brazilian architect who designed it. A monument here celebrates the quincentennial of Brazil.

Monumento Niemeyer, Alameda Ari Barroso - Ilha Porchat, São Vicente - SP, 11320-400, Brazil
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20 Porchat Island View of São Vicente Shoreline near Santos, Brazil

São Vicente is west of Santos separated by a hill named Morro Embaré. Founded in 1532, São Vicente claims to be Brazil’s oldest city. This municipality of 350,000 residents is largely a bedroom community for people working in Santos. Seen here from the overlook on Porchat Island is the U-shaped Bay of São Vicente.

Monumento Niemeyer, Alameda Ari Barroso - Ilha Porchat, São Vicente - SP, 11320-400, Brazil
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21 Itararé Beach in São Vicente near Santos, Brazil

Another gorgeous beach in São Vicente is Praia Itararé. The flat, hard and extensive sand makes for easy walking and is ideal for relaxing under rentable umbrellas. Among the amenities are a playground and biking path. Also here is the station for Teleférico de São Vicente. This is an enjoyable 11-minute cable car ride over a forest to the top of Morro do Voturuá. Beyond the waves in the background is Praia José Menino. This is the western-most beach in Santos.

Praia Itararé, Av. Padre Manoel da Nóbrega - Itararé, São Vicente - SP, 11320-200, Brazil
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22 Seven Beaches of Santos, Brazil

At the east end of Itararé Beach is a large rock with a statue. This is Pedra da Feiticeira or the Stone of Sorrow. According to legend, a witch-like woman was impregnated here by a sailor. He promised to return but never did. One day she believed he was sailing by in a boat. When she swam out, she was drowned in the current. This marks the beginning of about 4.5 miles of near-continuous sand along the shores of Santos. The seven beaches range from Praia José Menino in the west (behind the strolling couple) to Ponta da Praia in the east at the mouth of the Santos Port. Parallel to the coastline is a beachfront garden measuring over 17,500 feet long. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the world’s largest.

Pedra Da Feiticeira, Praia Itararé - Itararé, São Vicente - SP, 11320-200, Brazil
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23 Fountain at Bandeiras Sqaure in Santos, Brazil

Praça das Bandeiras is named after the Portuguese expedition into the unchartered regions of Brazil during the 17th century. These early pioneers were called bandeiras. This square along Gonzaga Beach was also created to recognize the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932. The revolt against Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas began on July 9, hence the name of the fountain (Fonte 9 de Julho). Behind the jets of water are 26 flags representing the states of Brazil.

Praça das Bandeiras, Av. Vicente de Carvalho - Gonzaga, Santos - SP, 11045-501, Brazil
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24 Avenida Ana Costa in Santos, Brazil

The Gonzaga neighborhood of Santos is a haven for hotels, restaurants and retailers. Especially popular are the shopping malls Miramar, Patio Iporanga, Bulevar and Parque Balneário. Avenida Ana Costa is the main street running north to south through the district. Lining the median are swaying palm trees and blooming flower beds. The avenue terminates at Gonzaga Beach. Praia do Gonzaga tends to be among the busiest stretches of sand in Santos.

Av. Ana Costa, 542 - Gonzaga, Santos - SP, 11060-002, Brazil
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25 Monument at Independence Square in Santos, Brazil

In a roundabout along Avenida Ana Costa is Praça Independencia. Independence Square hosts the Monument to the Andradas. On top is José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva. This Brazilian statesman is called the Patriarch of Independence for his leadership role in achieving Brazil’s freedom from Portugal in 1822. Andrada then became the Empire of Brazil’s first prime minister. This beautiful tribute created by sculptor Antonio Sartori was erected on the centennial anniversary of the declaration of independence. The ashes of José Bonifácio, along with the remains of his three brothers, are in the Pantheon dos Andradas at Barão do Rio Branco Square in Centro Santos.

Praça da Independência, Av. Ana Costa – Gonzaga, Santos - SP, 11060-100, Brazil
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26 Santos Aquarium in Santos, Brazil

Santos Aquarium delivers hours of fun for all ages. Inside are 32 tanks. Half have sea water and the others have fresh water. They replicate the natural habitat of the 4,000 marine creatures on display. The most popular residents are sea lions, sharks, tartaruga-de-pente (hawksbill) sea turtles and Patagonia penguins. The Touch Tank is also very exciting for children. Admirers of world-famous sea-life muralist Robert Wyland will enjoy seeing two of his 400 foot paintings inside.

Av. Bartolomeu de Gusmão, Praça Luiz La Scala - Ponta da Praia, Santos - SP, 11030-600, Brazil
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27 Ponta da Praia Beach in Santos, Brazil

Ponta da Praia Beach spreads from Canal 6 to 7. It is the least favorite among sunbathers of the city’s seven beaches because it is devoid of sand. Yet people come to watch ships headed into the Santos Estuary Channel on their final approach to the port. There is also plenty of shoreline for fishermen to cast a line. Others rent kayaks to float along the Bay of Santos.

Av. Bartolomeu de Gusmão - Ponta da Praia, Santos - SP, 11030-600, Brazil
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28 Fishing Museum in Santos, Brazil

The Fishing Museum has an interesting collection of aquatic species. The biggest attraction is a 75 foot whale skeleton. Other exhibits include marine vessels and equipment. The Fishing Institute also has a critical mission. They study marine and freshwater in order to help preserve these natural resources and reduce the exploitation of fishing. Instituto de Pesca is housed in a building once operated by the School of Apprentices-Mariners. Prior to that, this was the site of Fort Augustus. Forte Augusto protected the Bay of Santos from the early 18th until the late 19th century. Related sites to see in the Ponta da Praia neighborhood are the Sea Museum, Aquarium and Fish Market.

Av. Bartolomeu de Gusmão, 192 - Ponta da Praia, Santos - SP, 11030-906, Brazil
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29 Fortress of Santo Amaro of Barra Grande, in Santos, Brazil

From Ponta da Praia Beach is a specular perspective from across the estuary of Fortress of Santo Amaro of Barra Grande. Barra Grande Fortress was initially built in 1584 to protect the port from attacks by privateers. It was expanded and equipped with new arms several times during the 18th and 19th centuries. The property was also used as a political prison. A boat tour is the best way to reach this historic site. The concrete column is the Marco Padrão de Santos monument. This marks where Portuguese explorer Martim Afonso de Sousa landed in 1532.

R. Messías Borges - Santa Cruz dos Navegantes, Guarujá - SP, 11425-110, Brazil
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