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OId and new walk hand-in-hand in Maranhão. Baroque tiles blend with space-age technology, centuries-old houses stand beside skyscrapers, and the music of the traditional bumba-meu-boi festival harmonizes with reggae.

And though Maranhão is part of the Northeast, it is heavily influenced by the culture and traditions of Brazil’s North, which themselves reflect a heavy indigenous influence.

The region has long been caught up in the sweep of foreign political strife. The Spanish arrived in Maranhão in 1500, the very year that Portuguese discovered Brazil. The Portuguese began struggling to consolidate their power over the region 35 years later.

In 1612, the French, supported by indigenous groups, tried to establish their own France Equinoxiale, but the Portuguese expelled the French and regained the territory three years later.

The Portuguese crown created the captaincy of Maranhão and Grão-Pará in 1624, but the Dutch invaded in 1641 and occupied the area until they were expelled in 1644.

Maranhão separated from Pará in 1774 and prospered, producing sugar, spices, ri ce, and cotton. In the 1970s, the government began restoring the capital’s old buildings. In 1997, Unesco declared the historic center of São Luis a World Heritage Site. Its streets now offer visitors a chance to rediscover a piece of history.

In Alcantara, the 17th century ruins of Igreja de São Matias church grace every postcard and abut the modernity of the Brazilian Space Center. The Lenҫóis Maranhenses area boasts a dazzling natural heritage: snow-white dunes encircle shockingly blue lakes in the national reserve.


• The Portuguese- tile faҫades of the buildings in the old part of São Luis, and the beaches, shopping malls, and good restaurants in the surrounding, modern new part of the city.
• The ruins of Alcantara’s churches.
• The lakes and the Preguiҫas River, in Barreirinhas.
• The virtually deserted Lenҫóis Beach, in the Parque Nacional dos Lenҫóis Maranhenses reserve.



• From March to July, when the dune lakes in Lenҫóis Maranhenses are at their fullest.
• From August to September, when the sun reigns supreme in São Luis – but be prepared for the strong winds.
• In May, for rhe beautiful Festa do Divino Espirito Santo festivities in Alcantara.
• In June, for the São João festivities in São Luis and Barreirinhas and particularly on the June 23th to see the bumba-meu-boi.

Maranhão travel guide and tourism information such as accommodation, festivals, transport, maps, activities and attractions in Brazil – Brazil Travel Guide

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