Picos, “the capital of honey”, is Piauí’s third city. It has a population of about 75,000. It doesn’t merit a mention in most guidebooks.

If you are looking for excitement, this is probably not the place for you. If you want to see an authentic slice of life in the interior of Brazil, then you may well be the only foreign visitor all month. Try to be here on a Saturday, to catch the market.

The city is 330km south of Teresina. It is a crossroad for three major Federal highways, the BR-020 from Fortaleza, the BR-407 from Bahia and the BR-316 from Pernambuco. This was once bandit country and, according to the Highway Police, the tradition lives on. They recommend caution on the roads in this area, especially the BR-407.


Cave paintings have been discovered in the serra da Coruja, indicating prehistoric habitation of the area.

The Portuguese explorers killed, enslaved, married and absorbed the local Indian population.

This area has always been off the map as far as the rest of Brazil is concerned. It was a centre of the Guerra dos Balaios (War of the Wicker Baskets), a rebellion by the poor, slaves, fugitive and prisoners, that occurred between 1838 and 1841.

The Portuguese originally names the settlement Bocaina. Its foundation is generally dated from the building of the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição by Borges Marinho. The foundation of the city is officially dated as the 12 December 1890 and is a day of local celebration. At that time much of the land in the area belonged to the Borges Leal family, and the economic hub of the area was their Fazenda Curralinho.

In 1925 and 1926 this remote area saw combat between the Coluna Prestes (Coluna Revolucionária de Luiz Carlos Prestes), well-organised revolutionaries, and troops of the Federal Government.

In a region afflicted by drought, the drought of 1932 is remembered as one of the worst. The river Guaribas continued to flow, causing migrants from Piauí and surrounding states to settle in Picos. The same river that saved the city from thirst is also prone to flooding. The floods of 1861, 1904 and 1960 were particularly damaging.

What to See

For a view of the city, head up the Morro da Mariana. Picos is more a city for chilling than sightseeing. The local sights are listed as

including the Cathedral of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios and the oldest church in the city, the Church of the Sagrado Coração de Jesus – the "igrejinha" (“little church”).

The Saturday Feira-Livre market (right) is one of the biggest in Piaui and, it is claim, the north-east of Brazil. You will almost definitely be the only foreigners there.

Prainha do Rio Guaribas (“little beach of the Guaribas”) is a river bank where the locals go to have fun and people watch.

Outside the city is the Barragem de Bocaina (Bacaina dam).

The annual town rodeo, the Vaquejada de Picos, takes place every April.

The city's museum was opened in 1968 by Dr Jose Albano de Macêdo (Ozildo Albano). It has a collection of artefacts and documents relating to the town and life in the sertão. The collection includes domestic utensils, documents, photographs, sacred art, books, records and family items. Documents refer to the sales of slaves, the battle of the Genipapo, the Guerra dos Balaios, local politics and government.

Museu Ozildo Albano

Pc Josino Ferreira, s/n
Centro - Picos - PI

Tel: (89) 3422-638

Where to Stay

I am aware of five hotels and pousadas in Picos. I have heard a recommendation for the Picos Hotel which is in the centre of town, opposite the rodoviária.

Hotel Serrano

Av. Severo Eulálio, 1190 - Canto da Várzea  

Tel: 89 3422-1123

Pousada do Altamira

Av. Diametral, S/n - Aerolândia  

Tel: 89 3422-4022


Picos Hotel

Av. Brasil, 400 – Centro

Tel: 89 3422-1344


Hotel Nacional

Av. Brasil, S/n - Boa Sorte 

Tel: 89 3422-4660


Pousada Torres

Av. Deputado Sá Urtiga, 752 - Centro 

Tel: 89 3422-6237