Capela de Santa Rita is the oldest church in Paraty. It was completed in 1722. This was the church of the white elite and freeman, former slaves
A true architectural gem, Paraty is one of the best preserved colonial cities of Brazil. Dating back to the 17th century, the city lies at the extreme end of the old gold path. 170 miles south of Rio, you dive into a bygone era, still moving to the rhythm of horse-driven carts on the cobbled streets and by the arrival of two-masted sailing ships in the port. The city now lives from art and crafts: galleries, traditional shops and small boutiques occupy the ground floor of the traditional colonial houses called pousadas.
Many restaurants welcome visitors. It is nice to enjoy a drink of cachaça on a terrace, an alcoholic drink made of sugar cane that gave the town a reputation. Nearly two hundred mills reached their full production capacity in 1690, when the city was constructed, and was serving as a military base to protect the marine exports of the precious yellow metal. A century later, it became a major trading port for coffee production, called the "black gold". Its low houses were then built up on one floor, decorated with friezes and wrought iron balconies, and then coloured in a Portuguese colonial style. It became a transition city and now welcomes tourists who stay in these pousadas. But Paraty is also located in a perfectly preserved natural setting, surrounded by the Bocaina mountain range, the former "forest of the Atlantic" along the entire coastline from north to south Brazil, and from which only one tenth remains because of the cultivation of coffee. Do not miss the discovery of the rainforest, now well protected.
The gold of Minais Gerais used to arrive by mule to Paraty to be boarded onto galleons for shipment to Europe. Some of these pathways have been preserved. It is thus possible to go up, in the middle of the virgin forest, a paved path from the eighteenth century, while observing the ruins of an ancient customs point and listening to the history of the region from a guide. Then, you should end on the bay's coast that is home to some sixty-five islands where you can swim, sunbathe or have lunch in Robinson style. Several agencies here will offer you these excursions. You can choose among mini-cruises, swimming, relaxation and even diving, if you would like to.
A cruise for the day to visit a few of the many islands of the bay. Located 19 miles away from Paraty, the beaches of Trindade are unmissable for their beauty. Do not hesitate to follow in the footstaps of the path of gold, through preserved tropical nature. Finally, it is possible to discover Paraty by bicycle.
The historical centre of Paraty is a priority visit. Stroll about the cobbled streets to Piazza Santa Rita, which houses the church of the same name, sunbathe, or visit the port: a small fish market opens here in the morning. It is from there that schooners (two-masted sailboats) leave for excursions to the nearby islands.
The road along the coast between Rio and Paraty is very winding. Make large plans for transfers to the airport in Rio, which is 5 and a half hours away by bus and 4 and a half hours away by taxi or by car. Bringing along walking shoes and comfortable, lightweight (cotton or linen) clothing is advisable! Anti-mosquito products and a light raincoat are always useful.
Local traders bargain with tourists to propose the deal of the century. Do not rush into it. Prefer local tour agencies, close to the city centre, which will offer tours for a good quality-price ratio. Some restaurants want you to pay an additional "cover charge",often unjustified... you should avoid them.
There are two Brazilian dishes, the "cozido" and the "feijoada" based on beans, rice and manioc flour and meat. In the region, the latter is prepared with black beans, orange and dried meat. Enjoy a glass of cachaça, the drink that earned the reputation of Paraty.
Many craft shops, often with affordable prices, are situated on the streets of Paraty. Paintings, "azuleros" (coloured ceramics), wooden sculptures, hammocks and large woven cotton fabrics are the most popular. You can also buy some clothing as a souvenir from a variety of shops.
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