Paraty is a beautifully preserved, colonial town on the Bay of Ilha Grande. Originally built to export gold back to the Old World from the nearby mine at Minas Gerais, Paraty gained prominence as a more secure alternative to Rio de Janeiro, following frequent raids by pirates funded by rival colonial powers. The elegant Portuguese architecture and cobbled streets of the historical centre date back to the seventeenth century and serve as a snapshot in time back to this bygone era.
The local government have taken great attempts to preserve the city as it was, preventing modern construction and even banning motor vehicles from the centre. This historical centre is built in the shadow of four colonial churches constructed in the Baroque style (the most famous is the Chapel of Saint Rita that dates back to the eighteenth century). The town was historically protected by two forts, Forte Defensor and Forte Patitiba, the ruins of which can be explored; they provide a fascinating insight into the history of the settlement.
Most hostels in Paraty have deals with boat companies who will take travelers on an island-hopping adventure, where you will pause to bathe in the transparent sea, or soak up some rays on the white, sandy beaches. As there are more than three hundred small islands in the vicinity, it is likely that you will have the entire beach to yourself. The crystal clear waters surrounding the islands give excellent snorkeling opportunities, and varies dive schools offer tours to Ilha dos Meros, which offers some of the best scuba conditions in Brazil. Behind the town are a range of mountains that house forests perfect for hiking up to picturesque waterfalls of Pedra Branca and Andorinhas. The mix of well-preserved colonial architecture and stunning island paradises make Paraty one of the most popular tourist destinations in the whole of Brazil.
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