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Olinda: a beautiful colonial town protected by UNESCO

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The city of Olinda, located a few kilometers north of Recife in Brazil, was founded by the Portuguese in 1535, and was one of the first settlements founded by Europeans in Brazil.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century the city became the capital of the Capitania of Pernambuco. But after the Dutch occupation of northeastern Brazil, Olinda was burned by the Dutch because her position did not allow adequate defense. In its place, the city of Recife was chosen as the main center of the colony of New Holland.

About twenty years later, with the return of the Portuguese to power, Olinda flourished again, once again becoming the capital of Pernambuco.


Olinda is a place to stroll through the streets, to visit churches and museums and to observe the scenarios that the city presents. The city landscape mixes the blue of the sea, the green of the vegetation and the colors of the historic buildings. Olinda has churches rich in ornaments and also individual chapels. Many of which were built in the 16th and 17th centuries. The city displays images of fine Baroque architecture. Among these, the Monastery of São Bento built in 1582, which has a gold foil altar and is known as the richest in the city, is very interesting.

The São Francisco Convent, built in 1577, was the first Franciscan monastery in Brazil. The complex is formed by the Church of Nossa Senhora das Neves, the Chapel of São Roque and the Cloister of the azulejos. The Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo was probably the first church of the Carmelite Order in Brazil. It was built around 1580-1620, and rebuilt in the 18th century. Another splendid church is the Cathedral (Sé), originally built in 1537, was later rebuilt. Olinda Cathedral is located in a place with a privileged view over the whole old city.

The harmonious balance between the buildings, the gardens, the churches, the convents and the numerous small Baroque chapels, all contribute to Olinda’s particular charm. The historic center of Olinda has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1982.

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