Residing in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Paraty is as far removed from the city which shares the regions namesake as you can get. This is a coastal historic town concerned more with old churches and cobbled streets than carnivals or nightclubbing. Don't let the demure atmosphere fool you however- Patray is every bit as vibrant as the most revered of Brazilian cruise ports, without the baggage of the tourist crowds flooding its beaches every summer.
If you've become bored of the skyscrapers and traffic of the South American capitals, this is most definitely the destination for you. The emerald green waters surrounding the port are utterly tranquil throughout most of the year, making it a perfect place to scuba, snorkel and Jet Ski, while the nearby islets, waterfalls and forests make it both a cultural hub and a brilliant place to begin a hiking journey.
Casa de Cultura
A former colonial mansion in the centre of town may look austere and completely untouched from the exterior, but it has an intriguing hidden purpose. Inside, there is a permanent exhibition hosted within the main gallery, displaying photos and video installations which document the contemporary local culture- all created from reminiscing with residents. As well as a look at the modern development of Paraty during the 20th century, you also take a fascinating tour through a hall displaying relics found within the ruins of the earliest settlements to be found on the coastline.
Forte Defensor Perpetuo
Just a 20-minute walk north of town, the Forte Defensor Perpetuo stands atop the hill known as Morro de Sao Roque. Originally built as a defence from pirate raids, six artillery guns overlook the Paraty bay, still in amazing condition considering they were erected as in 1703. Not only can you get a fine view of the entire region from its commanding position on the hill, but a tour of the interior buildings has a treasure trove of historical marvels to reveal. The main buildings in the complex house former command centres, barracks and troop armouries, some of which still contain remnants of the military occupation. This is a fascinating excursion, worth the trip for the panoramic view alone.
Matriz de Nossa Senhora dos Remedios
In 1787, the township of Paraty was home to two 17th century churches which had become dilapidated to the point where they simply couldn't remain standing. The First Church of our Lady of the Remedies was built upon the remnants of these two chapels, combining them into a single magnificent building. Local legend insists that this vast construction was financed by pirate gold, yet there's nothing dubious about the cultural pedigree inside- you can get a brilliant look at artworks from past and contemporary local artists within its splendid vaulted interior.
Shopping in Paraty
From its beginnings as a colonial settlement, Paraty has had a proud history of fine craftsmen gracing its charming cobblestone streets. You can find diverse art styles within all the mosaics, jewellery, painting and ceramics which are exquisitely crafted by the locals. Head to the centre of town for a fantastic chance to get hold of one of these genuinely unique pieces.
Eating out in Paraty
The cuisine in Paraty is very much about blending the flavours of their colonial roots with nouveau Brazilian dishes. For a great taster of this rare culinary treat, head to Le Castellet, where the menu offers up salade nicoise, croque monsieur and crepes cooked to perfection. All with a Brazilian twist of course.