The jewel of the state of Pernambuco is located a few kilometers from Recife and houses an important collection of historical buildings in the country.
Olinda It is just 6 km from the capital of Pernambuco and is always remembered during Carnival, a time when the steep slopes, streets and alleys surrounded by historic mansions are super busy with revelers, frevo dancers and giant puppets promoted by the traditional street blocks.
Founded on March 12, 1535, the city of Olinda It is the third oldest in Brazil and carries in its historic center several well-preserved buildings from the post-colonial period, churches, convents, monasteries, imposing townhouses and stately mansions that ensured it the title of Cultural Heritage of Humanity, granted by Unesco in 1982. In addition to the historic site, the city still has a commercial area and a more modern waterfront with several buildings, hotels and restaurants.
Right at the entrance of the historic city, also called Cidade Baixa, the Igreja do Carmo, built under a slightly higher area and surrounded by a huge green area, stands out, starting a series of tourist attractions that catch the eyes of visitors. From there, the best tour is to get lost in the city's streets and visit the museums, workshops, restaurants scattered in different parts of the city, in addition to admiring the rich architecture of the city.
all in all, Olinda it has 22 churches and 11 chapels, all made with stone and sandstone taken from the beach reefs. The most famous are those in the historic center of the city, totaling 7 (Sé Church, Carmo Church, São Bento Basilica, São Pedro Martín, São Francisco Church, Misericórdia Church, Olinda Seminary) all spread out on the 7 slopes. that form the historic site, being true postcards of Olinda. The main one, the Igreja da Sé, is at the top of the so-called Cidade Alta, with all the others built facing it.
The city that was already named as the first Brazilian capital of culture in 2005 has its charm and in addition to the impressive architecture, the atmosphere of the tree-lined streets makes the tour even more interesting. The center is surrounded by several slopes with direct access to Praça da Sé, they are: Ladeira 15 de Novembro, Ladeira da Misericórdia, Ladeira da Sé, Ladeira de São Francisco, Ladeira do Convento, Ladeira 10 de Novembro and Ladeira do Bonfim.
Alto da Sé is the busiest and highest part of downtown Olinda. There are the handicraft fair, the Museum of Sacred Art of Pernambuco, the Igreja da Sé, also housing the best angles for those who want to take beautiful photographs.
In Olinda, Carnival is one of the most popular in the country. Characterized by the giant puppets, the party starts a week before the official date, the city is even more colorful with revelers occupying all the streets of the city to the sound of a lot of frevo, samba, maracatu, caboclinho and afoxé.
In addition to beautiful landscapes and a lot of history, the city's infrastructure also surprises visitors, a great hotel structure offers prices for different tourist profiles. The rich and exotic cuisine can be enjoyed in the various restaurants around the center that serve dishes with regional ingredients such as manioc, seafood, coconut, fruits, leaves and roots.
Things to do in Olinda
Church Monastery of São Bento
The São Bento monastery church is considered the richest in Olinda. Baroque in style, it is made of carved cedar walls and covered with gold, ceiling panels, sandstone columns, carved pulpits and a sumptuous sacristy. The greatest treasure is the gold-plated altar from one end to the other of the 14 meters in height. On Sunday mornings, the monks themselves open the heavy rosewood doors and invite passersby to sung mass.
With a rich main altar made of cedar wood and covered with gold leaves, this church dating from 1762 is attached to the São Bento Monastery, which was completed in 1599. The altar's beauty is such that in 2002 it was dismantled. and taken to the Guggenhein Museum, in New York, to participate in an exhibition on Brazilian art.
San Francisco Convent
The Convento de São Francisco is part of a Baroque architectural complex of exceptional importance, which includes the Church of Nossa Senhora das Neves. Inside the complex it is possible to find a considerable amount of Portuguese tiles that decorate its interior.
Located on Rua Bernardo Vieira de Melo, Mercado da Ribeira houses several handicraft shops, carvers' workshops, a bookstore and a space where several giant dolls typical of the Olinda Carnival are exposed.
Rua do Amparo
The street is home to most of the restaurants, inns, bars, museums and workshops in the historic center and is the oldest in the city.
Regional Museum of Olinda
The museum has several pieces from the 17th to the 19th centuries, including rosewood furniture, European decorative artifacts, panels, images, porcelain pieces, chandeliers and crystal chandeliers. In all, there are 217 pieces on display throughout the halls of the building where it works. The Museum was installed in a beautiful colonial house that recalls Olinda from the 1700s.
Alto da Sé viewpoint
According to historians, the name of the city of Olinda would have its origin in this place in a supposed exclamation of the Portuguese nobleman Duarte Coelho: “Oh, beautiful situation to build a village!”.
At the highest point of the city is the imposing construction also known as Igreja de São Salvador do Mundo and was built in 1540. Today the attraction is the main postcard of the city.
Inside, the gold-plated side altars, the Portuguese tiles and the tomb of D. Hélder Câmara, former archbishop of Olinda, stand out.
Other tourist attractions in Olinda:
- Church of Carmo
- Bonfim's Church
- Church of Amparo
- Rosary Church
- Pernambuco Museum of Sacred Art
- Panoramic Elevator of Olinda
- Craft Market in Praça da Sé
- Carmo Square
- Olinda Public Library
- House of João Fernandes Vieira
- CEMO (Olinda Music Education Center)
- Bandstand at Praça da Preguiça
- Olinda Lighthouse
- Eufrásio Barbosa Market
- Astronomical Observatory
- Governors' Palace
- Senate Ruins
- Moorish townhouse on Rua do Amparo
- Moorish townhouse in St. Peter's Square
- MAC (Museum of Contemporary Art)
- Mamelungo Museum
- Regional Museum of Olinda
- Four Corners Spout
- Maxambomba set
- FOCCA – Olindense College of Accounting Sciences
How to get to Olinda
The Internal Airport of Recife/ Guararapes – Gilberto Freyre is one of the most modern in Brazil and receives daily flights from the main Brazilian capitals.
The most common route is to enter Pernambuco via BR-101 and then take PE-015 after Abreu e Lima.
Recife receives daily buses from several Brazilian capitals. For up-to-date information on which companies operate to the capital of Pernambuco, it is worth calling the city's bus station.
Recife bus station
Tel: (81) 3207-1088
To get to Olinda, you need to take the metro that is inside the bus station in Recife and go to the city center, where several buses leave for the destination.
Best time to visit Olinda
Olinda usually receives more rain during the first half of the year. If you intend to go to the state to enjoy the beaches, avoid the months of March to August. Summer is the ideal time to enjoy the Pernambuco coast. The averages at this time of year are usually around 28ºC.
Olinda has one of the most famous and sought-after carnivals in Brazil, which gained prominence thanks to the giant dolls that parade between the city's slopes. Booking hotels in advance is essential for anyone who wants to visit the city during the party.
Where to stay in Olinda
The historic center of Olinda is the main attraction of the city and where you will find the most charming accommodation options in the destination. The options in this part of the city are installed in charming colonial mansions in one of the most important historic sites in the country. Among the most recommended inns there, the Pousada do Amparo and the Pousada dos Quatro Cantos.
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