Catedral Sao Joao Batista
This elegant example of neo-Gothic architecture-- easily Brazil's finest-- might seem more at home in Medieval France than the rainforests of the New World. The graceful symphony of peaked arches and delicately rendered towers, built between 1928 and 1932, overlook Getúlio Vargas Square in Santa Cruz do Sul.
Catedral Sao Joao Batista is widely considered among the most beautiful cathedrals in South America. The gothic towers stand 169 feet (82 meters) tall, while the interior murals and lovely stained glass seem to invite light and cheer into the imposing structure. The cathedral is only one of this mid-sized city's attractions. The Autodromo Internacional de Santa Cruz do Sul hosts popular racing events year-round. The crowds multiply in late September, when Santa Cruz, founded in the 1840s by German settlers, begins its outrageous and world-famous Octoberfest celebration.
Things to know before you go
*The Catedral Sao Joao Batista is a must-see for architecture buffs and spiritual travelers. *It’s possible to visit Catedral Sao Joao Batista on a day trip from Porto Alegre, though many visitors choose to stay a night. *Masses at the cathedral are conducted in Portuguese. *Remember to dress respectfully and speak in a low voice, as this is an active place of worship.
How to get there
Santa Cruz do Sol is 95 miles (153 km) northwest of Porto Alegre and the nearest airport. The easiest way to get there is by bus.
When to get there
The cathedral is open daily, with masses held on Saturday mornings and several times on Sundays.