São Cristóvão

São Cristóvão (Portuguese pronunciation: [sɐ̃w kɾisˈtɔvɐ̃w], Saint Christopher) is a Brazilian municipality in the Northeastern state of Sergipe. Founded at the mouth of the Vaza-Barris River on January 1, 1590, the municipality is the fourth oldest settlement in Brazil. São Cristóvão is noted for its historic city square, São Francisco Square, and numerous early colonial-period buildings. The 3 hectares (7.4 acres) site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.[3][4][5][6][7]

São Cristóvão
Municipality of São Cristóvão
São Francisco Square, São Cristóvão
São Francisco Square, São Cristóvão
Flag of São Cristóvão
Official seal of São Cristóvão
Location of São Cristóvão in the State of Sergipe
Location of São Cristóvão in the State of Sergipe
São Cristóvão is located in Brazil
São Cristóvão
São Cristóvão
Location in Brazil
Coordinates: 11°00′54″S 37°12′21″W / 11.01500°S 37.20583°W / -11.01500; -37.20583
Country Brazil
RegionNortheast Region
State Sergipe
FoundedJanuary 1, 1590
 • MayorMarcos Santana (MDB)
 • Total436.863 km2 (168.674 sq mi)
47 m (154 ft)
 • Total91,093
 • Density196.43/km2 (508.8/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-3
Postal Code
HDI (2010)0.662 – medium[2]
Official nameSão Francisco Square in the Town of São Cristóvão
Criteriaiii, vi
Designated2010 (34th session)
Reference no.1272
State PartyBrazil
RegionLatin America and the Caribbean
Reference no.785

São Cristóvão covers 437 square kilometres (169 sq mi), making it the third largest settlement in the state of Sergipe behind Aracaju and Nossa Senhora do Socorro.[6] Its population is 91,093 (est. 2020) and has a population density of 196.43 per km2 (508.8/sq mi). São Cristóvão is home to the Federal University of Sergipe, which was established in 1968.[8]


Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, historically a place of worship for Afro-Brazilians in São Cristóvão

São Cristóvão was established by the Portuguese (in a time when Portugal, Spain and the Naples kingdoms were under the rule of Philip II of Spain) as one of the first colonization attempts in Sergipe, which makes the city the fourth oldest one in Brazil. In 1590 the Portuguese sent Cristóvão de Barros to both subjugate the region to colonial rule and establish a safe trading port between Salvador and Pernambuco. De Barros quickly and violently defeated the local population, which consisted of people of mixed Tupinambá and French heritage who maintained a trade in Brazilwood. As a symbol of his victory De Barros founded a small village named for his patron saint, Saint Christopher. The first Catholic parish in Sergipe was subsequently established in São Cristóvão in 1608. The Parish Church of Our Lady of Victory of São Cristóvão (Igreja Nossa Senhora das Vitórias de São Cristóvão) was built as the parish church; it remained the only parish in Sergipe until the late 17th century.[9][10]

The development of the town followed the Portuguese urban model, that is, in two plans: the higher town, where the headquarters of the civil and religious powers are; and lower town, with the harbour, the factories, and the low income population.[11] The economy of São Cristóvão initially depended on the establishment of cattle herds for meat, milk, and leather. The settlement was completely destroyed by the Dutch in 1637. Tobacco and sugarcane plantations were established in the 17th century, and remained into the modern period.[10]

São Cristóvão was the capital of the Province of Sergipe from the time of the Independence of Brazil in 1822.

The provincial president Inácio Joaquim Barbosa transferred the capital of Sergipe from São Cristóvão to coastal Aracaju in 1855. São Cristóvão was seen as outdated, too far from the coast, and unable to expand to meet the needs of a growing state. The transfer was a "traumatic process" for the residents of São Cristóvão, many of whom left to live in Aracaju. São Cristóvão fell into slow decay, with numerous buildings left empty or even abandoned.[7]

20th centuryEdit

The importance of São Cristóvão as a historic and cultural center of Sergipe was recognized early in the 20th century. The National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN, originally SPHAN) was established in 1937 and undertook a great survey of colonial-period architecture in Brazil. The survey included numerous sites in São Cristóvão, which were designated federal monuments as early as 1943.[7]

In 1967, the city was designated a national monument to preserve its colonial architecture, and it is now home to ten national heritage sites of Brazil.[6] Among the important sacred buildings are the Church and Convent of Santa Cruz (also known as the Church and Convent of São Francisco, which date from 1693), the Misericórdia Hospital and Church (Santa Casa de Misericordia, the 17th-century Sisters of Mercy hospital), the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (1751), the Parish Church of Our Lady of Victory (1608) and several other important churches from the 18th century, including the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men, the Church of Our Lady of Protection, and the Church and Convent of Mount Carmel. Ten national or state heritage sites are located in or near the city center; two, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Conception of Engenho Poxim and the Church of Our Lady of Nazareth of Engenho Itaperoá, are abandoned and on sugarcane plantations far from the city center.[12][11]

The religious sites of São Cristóvão remain an important center of Roman Catholic pilgrimage in Brazil. The Museum of Sacred Art of the Church and Convent of São Francisco is considered the third most important in Brazil.[3]

São Francisco SquareEdit

São Francisco Square (Praça São Francisco) is an open space surrounded by colonial-period buildings such as the São Francisco Church and convent, the Church and Santa Casa da Misericórdia, the Provincial Palace and other buildings from later periods. The complex is a well-preserved example of typical Franciscan architecture of north-eastern Brazil. On August 1, 2010 the site, which covers 3 hectares (7.4 acres), was selected as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is managed by a regional office of the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN) and the municipal government.[7]

Historic structuresEdit



Rural chapels


The city is a shipping port, and its main industries are sugar milling and distilling.[4]


  1. ^ IBGE 2020
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 8, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b Aragão, Ivan Rêgo; Ruiz de Macedo, Janete (2011). "São Cristóvão e divina pastora: locus do turismo religioso em Sergipe-Brasil". Revista Iberoamericana de Turismo – RITUR (in Portuguese). Universidade Federal de Alagoas. 1 (1): 34–46.
  4. ^ a b "São Cristóvão". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2015. Retrieved 2015-01-24.
  5. ^ "Historiador lamenta insegurança que compromete turismo em São Cristóvão". Globo.com (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil: Globo Comunicação e Participações S.A. 1 Jan 2015. Retrieved 24 Jan 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "São Cristóvão" (in Portuguese). Brasilia, Brazil: IBGE. 2015. Retrieved 2015-01-24.
  7. ^ a b c d Casas do Patrimônio: imagens (in Portuguese), 2010, Wikidata Q76009501
  8. ^ "Universidade Federal de Sergipe (UFS)". São Cristóvão/SE: Universidade Federal de Sergipe. 2015. Retrieved 2015-01-24.
  9. ^ Solimar G. Messias Bonjardim; Maria Geralda de Almeida (2011). "Expansão do sagrado: a territorialidade da Igreja Católica em Sergipe-Brasil". Revista Geográfica de América Central (in undetermined language). 2: 1–16. ISSN 1011-484X. Wikidata Q112247369.
  10. ^ a b Presser, Margaret (2006). Pequeña enciclopédia para descobrir o Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Senac Rio. pp. 318–321. ISBN 8587864742.
  11. ^ a b "São Cristóvão (SE)" (in Portuguese). Brasilia, Brazil: IPHAN. 2015. Retrieved 2015-01-24.
  12. ^ "Engenho Poxim: capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição (São Cristovão, SE)" (in Portuguese). Brasília: Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional. Retrieved 2017-04-06.

External linksEdit