One of Brazil’s oldest urban settlements, Paranaguá was founded in the 1550s on the banks of the lazy Rio Itiberê as it flows into the Baía da Paranaguá. The town’s importance as a major commercial port has destroyed much of its charm. Nonetheless its small historical center has its share of handsome old houses and Portuguese-style colonial churches.
These, together with a low-key atmosphere and some unassuming but very decent seafood restaurants, make it a worthwhile place to kill a few hours while you’re waiting for a boat to Ilha do Mel or for the Sunday Serra Verde Express train to Curitiba.
Among Paranaguá’s handful of churches, the oldest and most imposing is the Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Largo Monsenhor Celso, no phone, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily), parts of which date back to 1578. Nearby, built by and for the town’s slave population, the modest 18th-century Igreja de São Benedito (Rua Conselheiro Sinimbu, no phone, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily) still retains all its original features.
Construction of the imposing stone Colégio dos Jesuítas began in the late 1600s when the city’s elite invited Jesuit priests to set up a school for their sons. After later serving as a military barracks and a customs house, it is now occupied by the Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia (Rua General Carneiro 66, tel. 41/3422-2511, 9:30 a.m.–noon and 1–6 p.m. Tues.–Fri., noon–6 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$3), which has an engaging collection of local Tupi-Guarani artifacts and regional folk art created by Paraná’s earliest European settlers.
Casa do Barreado (Rua José Antônio da Cruz 78, tel. 41/3423-1830, noon–3 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$25) has the best food in town combined with a lovely garden setting. The highlight of the prix fixe self-service regional buffet is barreado, but there is also galinha na púcura (chicken cooked in a clay casserole) and grilled fresh fish. Locally produced cachaças and delicious homemade desserts are also included.
Overlooking the river, Danúbio Azul (Rua 15 de Novembro 95, tel. 41/3423-3255, 11:30 a.m.–6 p.m. and 7–11 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun., R$15–20) offers both à la carte and buffet service featuring a variety of salads, meat, and seafood dishes.
For cheap and tasty seafood, head to the Mercado Municipal do Café (Rua General Carneiro, tel. 41/3423-2155, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–noon Sun.), a former coffee market where you’ll find a string of rustic restaurants and bars as well as stalls selling regional handicrafts.
Getting to Paranaguá
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition