Sao Luis do Maranhao

Strolling through São Luís do Maranhão means moving between the historical past with beautiful churches, museums and monuments and the present.

São Luís, the capital of Maranhão, has many peculiarities: it is the only city in the country founded by the French, it has the largest collection of Portuguese tiles in Latin America and, despite belonging to the Northeast, it is close to the Amazon.

In the Historic Center of São Luís do Maranhão, the facades of the mansions, decorated with delicate tiles from the then Metropolis, allow a return to the past – it is a shame, however, that the conservation of this world heritage site is disappointing.

But “Ilha do Amor”, as São Luís is known, also has its modern side, as the bustling Avenida dos Holandeses and the bars of the charming Lagoa da Jansen remind us.

The influence of the Portuguese, Spanish, French and Dutch helped shape the Historic Center of São Luís, making it the true guardian of a vast cultural heritage – part of its 4 properties are recognized by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.

The unnumbered streets can be quite a mystery for those not used to the city. But most hotels and restaurants are located in the Ponta D'Areia, Renascença I and II and Calhau neighborhoods, all connected by the long Avenida dos Holandeses, which makes access a little easier.

The Historic Center, which is reached by crossing the José Sarney Bridge, is home to most of the attractions, but it's good to plan: on Mondays, most of them are closed. The same happens on weekends, when shops are not open and there is little movement of people, which makes the tour less safe.

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