Paraty, where the Serra do Mar mountains slope to a sheltered bay strewn with islands. Once the Guaianas Indians were the only inhabitants of the area, but then gold was discovered in Minas Gerais. Paraty offered the only traversable path over the mountains to the gold, minerals, and gems, plus it had a safe, defensible harbor. It quickly became a major transit point for the Portuguese and a colonial village, founded in 1667, grew around the still standing church of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios.
The slave trade boomed. Not only did the colonial masters need forced laborers for the mines of Minas Gerias but Paraty rose to economic importance because of its coffee and sugar cane plantations and sugar cane mills and distilleries. Caipirinha anyone?
Gold seekers, adventures, slave traders, plantation owners, and pirates; what an interesting history of greed and exploitation. However, two things eventually led to Paraty’s downfall. In 1767 a faster route was created to Minas Gerias and in 1888 slavery was abolished in Brazil. Isolated and without laborers, Paraty fell into obscurity. Basically a town frozen in time, its colonial character remained intact. After the building of a coastal highway in the 70’s, Paraty was once again connected. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site and people from around the world now come to discover its natural beauty and village charm.
Today there are no cars, just bicycles and horse drawn carriages on the cobblestone streets of Paraty’s historic center. And when I say cobblestones, I’m talking massive rocks! They were actually ballast carried in the ships that came from Lisbon. The rocks were unloaded to make room for the gold and other goods being shipped back to Portugal.
We spent three days enjoying Paraty; the following photos are of the historic town center. The area’s beaches and waterfalls deserve their own separate entries.
Carb overload (seafood pasta in a bread bowl) at Margarida Cafe
YUM! Fish with passion fruit sauce.
Fresh fruit juices at Thai Brazil
Igreja de Santa Rita
Our nephew’s Flat Stanley came with us on our trip.
Igreja Nossa Senhora dos Remedios
The Portuguese constructed Paraty so that once a month the full-moon tide can enter and flood the streets, cleaning and carrying the garbage away. We saw pictures of people navigating the streets in small boats.
Serene end to the day