World Heritage #1308 – Paraty

Last modified 30.10.2022 | Published 05.10.1987Brazil, South America, World Heritage Sites

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This heritage site includes the historic colonial centre of Paraty and four natural areas in the Ilha Grande area in the south of Brazil. 

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

Official facts

  • Full title of site: Paraty and Ilha Grande – Culture and Biodiversity
  • Country: Brazil
  • Date of Inscription: 2019
  • Category: Mixed

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s (short) description of site no. 1308:

Located between the Serra da Bocaina mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean, this cultural landscape includes the historic centre of Paraty, one of Brazil’s best-preserved coastal towns, as well as four protected natural areas of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one of the world’s five key biodiversity hotspots. Paraty is home to an impressive diversity of species, some of which are threatened, such as the jaguar (Panthera onca), the white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) and several primate species, including the woolly spider monkey (Brachyteles arachnoides), which are emblematic of the site.

In the late 17th century, Paraty was the end-point of the Caminho do Ouro (Gold Route), along which gold was shipped to Europe. Its port also served as an entry point for tools and African slaves, sent to work in the mines. A defence system protected the wealth of the port and the town. The historic centre of Paraty has retained its 18th century plan and much of its colonial architecture dating from the 18th  and early 19th centuries.

My visit

I wrote this in my diary back in 1987: 

“Anyway, the destination today was Paraty. In the 1600s this little town was a centre for the gold export to Portugal. Today its old town is a national historic monument in its entirety. This means amongst other that car traffic is prohibited in the central streets. This is kind of smart, the place looks genuinely worth taking care of.

We were using our cameras several times. The streets are narrow; the surface of cobbled stones (quite large). The buildings are old and well preserved. Naturally this makes Paraty a picturesque and pleasant place to visit. In addition, the window frames and doors are in clear colours, and there are several nice little shops – for tourists.”

We didn’t go to see the Ilha Grande or any of the other natural areas now on the WHC List. The island of Ilha Grande lies between Paraty and Angra dos Reis. We went on a boat trip from Angra instead, to a nearby island called Ilha da Gipóia. It was lush, green and very pleasant. 

Read about my visit.

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