Olinda Tourist Attractions
Olinda (protected as a national monument and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site), 7km/4.3mi north of Recife, was the first capital of Pernambuco. It was founded in 1537 on a hill to the north of the Rio Beberibe, between the mata zone, with its sugar-cane plantations, and the coast. The town was a center of colonization and sugar-cane growing, but was soon overshadowed by Recife, the more dynamic port town, since it had no access of its own to the sea. The rivalry between the two towns reached its peak in 1710, after the promotion of Recife to the status of a vila, in the "Guerra dos Mascates", when the sugar barons of Recife opposed the political rise of the middle-class merchants of Olinda. With its churches, its Carnival and its festivals, Olinda is now one of the most popular tourist centers in Brazil.Bus StationPraça do Varadouro and Praça do Carmo
Farther north-west is the Benedictine monastery of São Bento (1582). Its choir chapel is one of the finest in the whole of Brazil. On the ceiling of the sacristy are painted scenes from the life of St Benedict (probably 1785) by José Elói, a leading painter of the colonial period, who is also credited with the large altarpiece of Nossa Senhora da Piedade (Our Lady of Compassion) in the sacristy.Notable works of sculpture in the monastery include the "Menino Jesus de Olinda" ("Infant Jesus of Olinda") by the monk Agostinho da Piedade (c. 1640) and two masterpieces by the Benedictine carver and sculptor Domingos da Conceição, "O Senhor Morto" ("The Dead Christ"; 1679) and "O Senhor Crucificado" ("Christ on the Cross"; 1688).The monastery is in Rua São Bento. In the same street is the Governor's Palace (Palácio dos Governadores).
São Francisco (Nossa Senhora das Neves)
São FranciscoN.S. das NevesNorth-east of Praça do Carmo, in the upper town, is Largo de São Francisco, with the oldest ensemble of Franciscan architecture in Brazil: the friary of São Francisco (1577), with the chapel of Sant'Ana and the church of Nossa Senhora das Neves (1585). The walls of both buildings are faced with azulejos and the ceilings have paintings. In the sacristy of the church is a large and beautifully carved chest of the colonial period; in the chapel of the Third Order note particularly the arch at the crossing with its gilded carving.
Nossa Senhora do Carmo
São RoqueAlso on Largo de São Francisco is the chapel of São Roque (1811), which contains fine carving and Portuguese tile pictures.
Above Largo São Francisco is the Cathedral (1537), with a number of fine paintings by unknown masters, some dating from the 17th century.
Alto da Sé
Beyond the Cathedral, on the Alto da Sé (Cathedral Hill), are a number of interesting buildings: the Seminary (1549); the church of the Misericórdia (1540; restored 1654), which has fine gilded carving and pictures; the church of the Imaculada Conceição (Immaculate Conception; 1569); and the former Bishop's Palace, now housing the Pernambuco Museum of Sacred Art.
Rua dos 4 Cantos
Rua dos 4 CantosRua 13 de Maio runs into Rua dos 4 Cantos, the traditional meeting-place of Olinda's carnival clubs. In this street is the sculpture "Senhor Atado" ("Christ in Chains"), one of a series of Stations of the Cross dating from 1773. Other stations are the "Senhor Carregando a Cruz" ("Christ Carrying the Cross") in Rua Bernardo Vieira de Melo, the "Senhor Apresentado ao Povo do Castelanho" ("Christ Presented to the People of Castelanho") in Rua 27 de Janeiro and "Nossa Senhora com Jesus" ("Mary with Jesus") on Largo do Amparo.In 1809 an additional sculpture, the "Senhor dos Montes das Oliveiras" ("Christ on the Mount of Olives"), was set up on the Alto da Sé.
Bom Jesus do Bonfim
Bom Jesusdo BonfimAbove Praça do Carmo, in Rua do Bonfim, is the 17th century church of Bom Jesus do Bonfim.
Nossa Senhora do Monte
N.S. do MonteTo the north of the Museum of Sacred Art, dominating the town, is the late 16th century church of Nossa Senhora do Monte.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Museum of Contemporary ArtIn Rua 13 de Maio, north-west of the Cathedral, is the Museu de Arte Contemporânea, housed in the old prison, the 18th century chapel of São Pedro ad Vincula.
São João Batista dos Militares
São João Batista dos MilitaresIn Rua da Saudade is the church of São João dos Militares (1580), the only church in Olinda which escaped destruction by the Dutch in the 17th century.
Ribeira MarketThe Ribeira Market (craft shops) occupies a 17th century building in Rua Bernardo Vieira de Melo, a little way south-east of the Museum of Contemporary Art.From the 1500's to 1800's, this was the location of slave trading. Today, the market features handicrafts.
Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe dos Pardos
N.S. de Guadalupe dos PardosOn Praça Miguel Canuto is the church of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe dos Pardos (1626).
Nossa Senhora da Graça
N.S. da GraçaOn higher ground is the church of Nossa Senhora da Graça, designed by the Jesuit Francisco Dias and built from 1580 onwards. In a picture by the Dutch painter Frans Post the ruined church is shown as it appeared after being burned down by the Dutch in 1631.
Regional MuseumThe Regional Museum (furniture, sacred art) is in Rua do Amparo, which also has a number of sobrados (two-story houses of the colonial period) in a style which shows Moorish influence.
There are a number of towns and attractions in the surrounding area of Olinda.
Pau AmareloOn the Praia do Pau Amarelo is a fort built in 1719 on the spot where the Dutch landed in 1630.
Maria FarinhaThe picturesque beach of Maria Farinha lies near expanses of untouched mangrove swamp and sandbanks through which run navigable channels. Here there are facilities for water-skiing, wind-surfing and other water sports; also sightseeing flights in an ultra-light aircraft.
BeachesOn the north side of the town are the beaches of Milagres (within the town), Carmo, São Francisco, Bairro Novo, Casa Caiada and Rio Doce (6km/4mi). On the Praia de São Francisco is the 16th century Fort São Francisco. Casa Caiada (4km/2.5mi away), enclosed by artificial reefs, offers facilities for all kinds of water sports.
PaulistaIn the commune of Paulista are a number of very popular beaches: Janga (8km/5mi from Olinda), Nossa Senhora do ó (13km/8mi), Pau Amarelo (14km/8.7mi) and Maria Farinha (22km/13.6mi).
Itamaracá45km/28mi north of Olinda is Itamaracá. It can be reached by road or on a small steamer (about 40 passengers), departing from the Quatro Rodas Hotel and sailing past the beaches mentioned above; a stop is made at the enchanting island of Coroa de Avião for bathing. The trip takes 1.5 hours.
Map of Olinda Attractions