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At the beginning of the 18th Century the Brazilian Bandeirantes, mixed-race Brazilians (Indian mother, Portuguese father) discovered the fabulous gold and diamonds in Minas Gerais, some hundred kilometers north of Paraty, in the heart of a still virgin territory.

This opened the most direct path from the mines to the coast, through the mountains covered in thick tropical forest, which spread from the coast to the central plains.

This gold trail, whose cobblestones today recall its history, opens out on to an area scattered with bays and inlets, natural shelters only known by pirates lying in wait for merchant ships traveling along the coast of the New World: this area is known as Paraty.

The port grew rapidly, stimulated by the important movement of traffic that it organized. The boats arrived from Africa carrying slaves and manufactured produce to leave again towards Portugal carrying quantities of diamonds and gold brought to the coast by an unending line of mule convoys.

Prosperity continued until a new, more direct path, caused an upheaval in the destiny of Paraty making what was none other than a coastal village the centre of a commercial triangle: Rio de Janeiro did not take long to catch up …a reverse of history caused the brutal destruction and almost abandonment of Paraty but nevertheless allowed the town to preserve its treasures which remain until the present day.

Sauntering along the narrow cobbled streets, one discovers one of the most beautiful colonial heritages of Brazil, World class Heritage listed by UNESCO. Perfectly renovated dwellings and the four magnificent Baroque churches, a heritage that recalls the pomp of the past centuries and the collection of small low houses of the bourgeoisie "sobrados" from the 18th Century, in the centre of town, where cars are forbidden - emit a nostalgic charm. Views from the jetty, the sea, the church, the hills and the sky complete a perfect harmony of shades of white, green and blue.

The surroundings of Paraty equally contribute to this famous growth. Tropical mountains which “fall” into the ocean, long deserted beaches of fine white sand, an abandoned lighthouse off a fishermen’s village, islands straight from paradise surrounded by turquoise seas, undulating hinterland rich in local products, this is what you find in the region of Paraty, a land of incredible nature rich in history and traditions. Traveling through the national parks next to this little colonial city (Serra da Bocaina, Serra do Mar, Saco de Mamangua, Ponta de Joatinga), the curious will discover fazendas, Pinga distilleries (nickname for Cachaça, the national alcohol) sugarcane fields and coffee plantations with as much heritage as secular culture.

Today Paraty possesses a modern feel all year long for rich cultural life: the Pinga festival, the Book Festival, numerous shows and exhibitions … the informed traveler will undoubtedly love it, even in only a few days stay.


Other places nearby Paraty: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belem.

30 Apr 2008

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