Convento Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Convent of Our Lady of the Conception) – Itanhaém, Brazil - Atlas Obscura

Convento Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Convent of Our Lady of the Conception)

Itanhaém, Brazil

This convent has a unique history, including being burned down by a friar trying to get rid of a few bats.  


The white colonial facade of this church atop a wooded hill in Itanhaém conceals more than just its altar. Apart from being a Catholic place of worship, the church also functions as a museum. Visitors can view the furnished rooms of the former religious retreat, however, its most intriguing element resides in the backyard.

After beating the steep slope, visitors can also view the remains of what was once the Convent of Our Lady of the Conception

The convent was constructed around 1733, although the site dates back to the 16th century. Decaying brick walls, an ancient wooden cross, and brush growing wildly create an enchanting atmosphere that feels like stepping back into time. However, a wooden post on the site is a sobering reminder of the horrors that took place during the age of colonization and expansion. The whipping post as it was known, was used to punish slaves at the convent. Signs with historical information are found around the site that helps outline its history. 

In 1883, a large portion of the convent was destroyed by a fire. Friar Manuel de Santa Perpétu was a priest and private tutor at the complex for children and adults. He and his students would often light torches to rid the convent of bats before their lessons. On this occasion, they decided to use dried banana leaves to light the torches. The dry, decrepit wood ignited immediately, destroying the first temple dedicated to the Virgin of the Conception in Brazil

In 1916, the church and the remaining ruins of the Nossa Senhora da Conceição Convent, some of which had been restored, were transferred to the Diocese of Santos.  They still maintain the property to this day. 

Know Before You Go

Remember to bring bug spray. The place is surrounded by nature and mosquitos 

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