Colonial Brazil holidays
Brazil's well-preserved colonial towns are atmospheric places to spend a few days during a tailor-made tour, surrounded by elegant architecture and tangible history. Olinda and Salvador in North Eastern Brazil are two of the most popular choices, while the mining towns of Ouro Preto and Tiradentes in Minas Gerais state are also not to be missed. But there are others, too, up and down the country, full of colourful festivals and fascinating local legends.
Brazil's colonial history began with the arrival of Portuguese explorers in the 16th century. British, French and Dutch traders soon seized opportunities to make their own mark on this vast land full of promise, and Jesuit missionaries set about converting the indigenous Brazilians to Christianity. The colonial towns tell the history of the nation, from the planting of sugar plantations and the boom generated by the gold rush, to the slave trade and Brazil's struggle for independence. The beautiful old colonial towns have narrow cobbled lanes and impressive plazas lined with mansions, churches and whitewashed town houses - and visiting them is a real highlight of a Brazil holiday.
Top itineraries in Colonial Brazil
This tailor-made holiday combines the very best of Brazil's cities, beaches and natural world. Begin in Rio – the home of Carnival – before swapping the golden sands of Ilha Grande for the historic treasures of Paraty and the crashing torrents of Iguau Falls.
Explore Brazil, a country with a continent's worth of highlights within its borders. Teeming rainforests, sparkling beaches and iconic megacities can all be found here, along with a people and culture with a deserved reputation as one of the most welcoming on earth.
It's time to hit the road on this incredible 13-day self-drive holiday, crossing four states in Brazil's stunning Northeast region - Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe and Bahia.
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Where to go in Colonial Brazil
Olinda is one of Brazil's best-preserved colonial cities, founded by the Portuguese in 1535 and later occupied by the Dutch. Its grand churches, gardens and cobbled streets are easily explored on foot, and form a fine backdrop for Olinda's spectacular Carnival celebrations.
Paraty is one of Brazil's best-preserved colonial towns. Situated towards the western end of the Costa Verde, it was founded by the Portuguese in the 16th century and acted as a principal port for the shipping of gold to Europe.
Tiradentes is, like Ouro Preto, one of Minas Gerais state's historic gold mining towns. It too has some carefully restored Baroque churches and whitewashed cottages built along steep cobbled streets, which clatter to the hoof-beat and trundling wheels of horse-drawn carriages - which are a popular …
Ouro Preto - or ‘Black Gold' - was named after the darkened nuggets of gold mined nearby during the 18th century gold rush. Fine colonial buildings were constructed on the back of the gold boom, with artists and craftsmen such as the ecclesiastical painter Mestre Athayde and the master sculptor Ale…
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