History and Tourist Spots of Lençóis in Chapada Diamantina

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Lençóis na Chapada Diamantina
Lençóis na Chapada Diamantina

Lençóis is the gateway to the Chapada Diamantina.

The city of Lençóis emerged when diamond deposits were discovered in Mucugê, in the mid-19th century.

At that time, adventurers arrived in large numbers and set up tents that, from afar, looked like stretched sheets, which gave rise to the name.

Lençóis was the richest of the Chapada during the Diamond Cycle.

Even a French consulate was installed there, to facilitate the export of the valuable stones.

When the mines were exhausted, Lençóis went into decay, surviving on the extraction of carbonates and having to endure the excesses of the colonels, who provoked great conflicts in the region.

Map of Chapada Diamantina

Map of the Trails and Tourist Spots of Chapada Diamantina

The most famous of them was Colonel Horácio de Mattos, of great political influence, including with the Federal Government.

The architecture of Lençóis preserves the memory of the times of opulence. The folkloric manifestations have a prominent place; the most animated are the June festivals promoted in public square, with shows, cavalhadas, forrós and quadrilhas.

The Lençóis Winter Festival features performances by renowned artists with free admission.

Commerce, restaurants, bars and the main services are concentrated in the streets near the main square of Lençóis, where the forró takes place.


Videos about Lençóis in Chapada Diamantina

History of Lençóis

The architectural and landscape complex of Lençóis was listed by Iphan in 1973.

The city is located in the central-western region of Bahia, in a natural amphitheater on the eastern slope of the Serra do Sincorá.

Mercado Público Municipal de Lençóis construído às margens do rio que deu o nome à cidade de Lençóis BA
Mercado Público Municipal de Lençóis construído às margens do rio que deu o nome à cidade de Lençóis BA

The ensemble is quite rich and interesting, having preserved much of its original characteristics, in addition to being located in a region of mountains, in the area of the Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina, famous for stunning natural beauty. In the heritage protection area there are 570 properties.

The cultural heritage of Lençóis portrays the time of the economic heyday of the villages and towns of the Chapada, in the 19th century.

Between 1845 and 1871, Lençóis was the world’s largest diamond producer and the third most important city in Bahia, becoming a trading post for the export of mineral products to Europe and the import of luxury goods, to the point that a French vice-consulate was installed in the city to facilitate trade with that country.

Ponte em Lençóis BA
Ponte em Lençóis BA

At a time of rapid development, the first sobrados and the most elaborate buildings in the city appeared.

This house is characterized by the bright colors of its masonry and window frames.

Civil architecture is of greater importance than religious architecture, and there is not just one dominant monument in the listed complex.

This ensemble corresponds to the entire urban area of the city, due to the topography and the lack of planning in the typical occupation of the mining centers of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The settlement was formed from two nuclei: Serrano and São Félix, places where diamond mining began simultaneously and then joined into a single urban area.

The nucleus of Serrano was located at a high point, on the bank of a river rapids, moving as the camp consolidated towards the current Praça Horácio de Matos, of milder topography, meeting the other nucleus, on the opposite bank of the river. 

The colonial streetscape emerged from the poles built around the Church of Our Lady of the Conception and the bridge connecting the centers installed on both sides of the river.

The construction of the bridge, in 1860, occupied the idle labor force, victim of the great drought that devastated the sertão, between 1859 and 1862.

At this time, the large sobrados were built, which make up the old Praça do Mercado – now Praça Horácio de Matos – where there are five listed houses.

One of these sobrados served as the Council House, but was demolished in the 1940s for the construction of the Post and Telegraph Agency.

Like all mining settlements, Lençóis developed in a disorganized manner: the urban typology is composed of an irregular grid of streets that adapt to the terrain, interspersed with small squares and squares.

Some of the streets are paved with the rock that is found in the area. The new streets – spontaneous or from the expansion area approved by IPHAN – go up and down slopes, imitating the layout of the colonial streets, while others have irregular stone paving that form decorative designs.

The pavement of some streets is made of the rock itself.

Monuments and Public Spaces

Horácio de Matos Square (the most important public space in the city), Municipal Public Market, bridge over the Lençóis River, City Hall, property where the Iphan Technical Office operates, former Health Post, Arena Theater, Nossa Senhora do Rosário Church, Nosso Senhor dos Passos Church, Afrânio Peixoto Culture House and Amphitheater, Public Library, Public Archives, among others;

The collection of Lençóis consists of buildings from the second half of the last century, built with different techniques, predominantly adobe, with emphasis on bright colors. 

1. Headquarters of IPHAN in Lençóis

Sede do IPHAN, em Lençóis
Sede do IPHAN, em Lençóis

For a long time, it housed the Town Hall on the first floor, the Public Prison in the basement and, later, the City Hall.

The architecture of this building makes it a fine example of the eclectic style,” says architect and urban planner Liziane Peres Mangili, who specializes in preserving and restoring historical heritage.

According to historian Delmar de Araújo, the lion model was inspired by Colonel César Sá, one of its residents, who, on a trip to Europe, was inspired by the architecture of the Alhambra Palace, located in Granada, Spain.

2. Building of the Advanced Campus of UEFS

Prédio do Campus Avançado da UEFS em Lençóis
Prédio do Campus Avançado da UEFS em Lençóis

In neo-Gothic style, the sobrado is situated on the corner of Praça Horácio de Matos. As a reaction to the neoclassical, the style spread and, at the end of the 19th century, was widely accepted, especially in the cities of Lençóis and Andaraí.

3. Former French Vice-Consulate

Antigo Vice-Consulado Francês em Lençóis
Antigo Vice-Consulado Francês em Lençóis

With neo-Gothic decoration, the building functioned as a point for the diamond trade of the French Syndicate, an activity that made it recognized as a Vice-Consulate of that country during the heyday of this ore. Currently, it functions as a residential house on the upper floor and commerce in the lower part.

4. Cultural Market

Mercado Cultural em Lençóis
Mercado Cultural em Lençóis

Built from the end of the 19th century to 1940, the current Cultural Market of Lençóis was once a space for the free market, the first cinema in the city, the location of the film ‘Diamante Bruto’ (by Orlando Senna), dances and even the first TV in the city, around which people gathered to watch the news, soap operas and World Cup matches.

Its façade facing the Lençóis River, with its exposed stones, allowed a perfect integration with the natural scenery, giving a peculiar landscape aspect to the city.

5. Bridge over the Lençóis River

Ponte sobre o rio Lençóis
Ponte sobre o rio Lençóis

In 1859 there was an economic crisis in the city caused by drought. In order to generate employment and income for the population, the state government began construction of the bridge in 1860. “Three full arches, also known as Roman arches, form this bridge, which has a strong and massive appearance.

Originally, it had a plaster coating, which was removed during the Monumenta Program work in 2000, in order to make it more integrated with the riverbed.

Some writers say that the mortar was composed of egg white and castor oil.

6. Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário em Lençóis

Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário em Lençóis
Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário em Lençóis

Built in 1830, it is the largest church in the Bahian hinterland.

Tourist spots of Lençóis in the Chapada Diamantina

1. Igreja Nosso Senhor dos Passos

Igreja Nosso Senhor dos Passos em Lençóis
Igreja Nosso Senhor dos Passos

Restored in 2008, the old church consecrated to the patron saint of gold miners is a beautiful example of religious architecture.

2. Afrânio Peixoto Museum

House where Afrânio Peixoto (1876-1947), coroner, politician, professor, critic, essayist, novelist and literary historian, born in Lençóis and member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, lived.

In the museum are the objects that belonged to the illustrious character, as well as his Academy uniform.

Museu Afrânio Peixoto - Lençóis
Museu Afrânio Peixoto

3. Serrano

A sloping slope through which the waters of the River Serrano flow. In the dry season, it gives rise to wells used by the washerwomen, who are part of the local folklore and even have their class entity: the Association of Washerwomen.

4. Halls of colored sands

The cave has halls with walls made up of sands of various colors used to make drawings in

Salões de areias coloridas - Lençóis
Salões de areias coloridas

bottles, examples of the most traditional northeastern handicrafts.

5. Cachoeirinha

Several waterfalls with a height of more or less 5m provide an excellent natural hydromassage.

6. Poço do Harley

The copper tone of the waters of this natural pool is caused by iron dioxide. Excellent for bathing, it is a walk that can be done on foot, passing by Serrano and the colored sand halls.

Cachoeira da Primavera em Lençóis
Cachoeira da Primavera

7. Spring Waterfall

A trail that crosses curious rock formations will take you to this waterfall. It is recommended to be accompanied by a guide.

8. Sossego Waterfall

Erosion has formed two stone walls in the waterfall. The water falls from a height of 14m into a pool of reddish water. The walk requires physical effort, but it pays off.

Map and Access to Chapada Diamantina Guide
Map and Access to Chapada Diamantina Guide

9. Ribeirão do Meio

Former mining site where there is a natural ramp of smooth stones, known as “slide”. The dip in the well is delicious, but be careful with the stones at the bottom.

10. Poço do Diabo

In this place a waterfall forms several wells. The largest of them, the Devil’s Well, is excellent for bathing. A zip line was installed at the site, where there are bars and restaurants.

Lapão Cave in Lençóis
Lapão Cave

11. Lapão Cave

It is the second largest quartzite cave in South America. Its more than 60m high exit is great for rappelling.

12. Mandassaia Waterfall

There are two waterfalls. The first, temporary, is divided into six, forming a beautiful spectacle. The second, perennial, has an approximate height of 10m.

13. Serra das Paridas

Various rock inscriptions, still the subject of archaeological studies. According to some, some of the figures resemble extraterrestrials. According to others, they are simply human beings. There are waterfalls in the surrounding area.

14. Vila do Remanso

Former quilombo where a group of descendants of Africans and Indians live in isolation, all related to each other. The lively village has a tradition of promoting the best forró in the region. The religious manifestations are linked to Jarê, a branch of candomblé, found only in Chapada.

Festivals take place in September. By the river, stalls sell fish-based dishes, including molê, which is said to be an aphrodisiac.

See also Chapada Diamantina – Main Tourist Spots and Tips

Bahia.ws is the largest tourism and travel guide of Bahia and Salvador.

Tourism and Travel Guide of Lençóis in Chapada Diamantina

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