We were lucky enough to visit the beautiful town of Olinda recently whilst on a trip to nearby Recife for a tourism fair. It was already on our hit list to visit whilst in the north east as is one of the most famous colonial towns in Brazil and was given the title of the First Brazilian Capital of Culture.
Olinda is a tourist hotspot and justifiably so, attracting hundreds or national and international tourists on a daily basis who head up and down the narrow steep streets, entranced by this charming little town.
Olinda lies by the Atlantic Ocean, fringed by palm trees, and is surrounded by old churches and colourful houses. The impressive historical buildings pair well with the cultural diversity of the town which can be seen everywhere, whilst the fabulous lookouts onto the ocean, the handicraft markets and its rich cuisine will delight visitors.
The main outlook of the city is the Alto da Sé where you can admire the historic buildings and the ocean. Located here is the Seminary, with its Brazilian Jesuit architecture whilst nearby are the Palace of the Governors, the Contemporary Art Museum and the Eufrasio Barbosa Market.
It’s perhaps the churches of Olinda which make this town such a favourite for tourists and are the iconic images of Olinda. There are 20 beautiful churches, most of them in Baroque style, especially the Carmo Church, the oldest church of the Carmelite order in Brazil; the Sao Salvador do Mundo Churh, one of the first built in Brazil; the Sao Francisco church, the oldest Franciscan building in the country; the Sao Bento basilica and monastery and the Rosario dos Homens Pretos Church, the first in the state of Pernambuco that has its brotherhood composed by black slaves and free men.
The city’s heritage isn’t restricted to historical monuments and Olinda is synonymous with celebration. It has one of the most famous carnivals in Brazil where the partying crowd will be lulled into celebration by the sounds of Frevo, Maracatu and other traditional rhythms of Pernambuco. The carnival in Olinda is famed for the giant puppets which parade through the streets followed by excited dancing carnival goers.
For arts and crafts, Olinda is considered an open air museum bringing together an historic site with more than 80 artists’ studios of national and international reputation whilst throughout the Cidade Alta there are numerous stalls of local artisans selling carvings, sculptures and embroideries.
For a place to stay there is none better in the town than the Pousada do Amparo, a small charming hotel which keeps up the colonial style of Olinda. It makes an ideal place to stay if you are visiting Recife and want to avoid the beachfront high rise hotels of Boa Viagem beach, instead opting for a more intimate property for your holiday.
If you are visiting the north-east of Brazil on holiday then Olinda is a must see.