Historic Centre of the Town of Olinda (1982)

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Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, the town's history is linked to the sugar-cane industry. Rebuilt after being looted by the Dutch, its basic urban fabric dates from the 18th century. The harmonious balance between the buildings, gardens, 20 Baroque churches, convents and numerous small passos (chapels) all contribute to Olinda's particular charm. 

Brazil 1985. Panoramic view of Olinda. 

Olinda, city in eastern Brazil, in Pernambuco State, a port on the Atlantic Ocean. One of the best-preserved colonial cities in Brazil, Olinda is built on hills that overlook the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby city of Recife. A number of 17th-century churches and houses line the narrow, winding streets that climb these hills. The port city juts into the ocean on the easternmost bulge of South America, and the fine beaches north of Olinda attract many tourists. 
  • Brazil 1985. Panoramic view of Olinda. 
Although sugar plantations operate in the area and plants in Olinda process sugar, the city is better known for its cultural and artistic attractions than for its industry. During the city's carnival celebration, thousands of costumed people dance in the streets, performing the frevo, an energetic regional dance. 

São Bento monastery, which operated the first law school in Brazil, and São Francisco monastery house noted art collections. Also in the city are the fort of São Francisco, called the Cheese Fort; the Prefeitura, or government house of the captains general; and the Joaquim Nabuco Institute. Artisans sell handcrafted goods in the Ribeira Market.

  • Brazil 1995. The lighthouse of Olinda. 

Brazil 1995. The lighthouse of Olinda.

Brazil 1999. View of Olinda.

Founded in 1535, Olinda was prominent in early colonial history, traces of which are found in the old churches and buildings. 

Long the most dominant city in northern Brazil, Olinda was the capital of the Portuguese colonial captaincy of Pernambuco; from 1630 to 1654 it was under Dutch rule. 

  • Brazil 1999. View of Olinda. 

The community became capital of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco during the 17th century because of the considerable political power wielded by the rich owners of the sugar plantations that surrounded the city. Recife later grew more dominant and succeeded Olinda as capital. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Brazil (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Brazil-section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 03 aug 2006  
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