The Historic Center

Start your exploration of Paraty at the main pier at the bottom of Rua da Lapa. Fishing boats come and go, as well as frequent schooner excursions. Turn and face the city and you will see the postcard-perfect vista of Paraty: the Santa Rita church framed by a background of lush green hills. The church was built by freed slaves in 1722 and despite its plain exterior, displays some fine rococo artwork. The church also houses the small Museum of Sacred Art (Wed-Sun 10am-noon and 2-5pm; admission R$4). It's worth a quick peek, though it can't compare to some of the fine art on display in Ouro Preto or Mariana. The building just to the left of the church was once the town jail; now it's home to the city library and historical institute. Paraty's biggest and most ornate church, the Igreja da Matriz, stands on the Praça da Matriz, close to the River Perequê-Açu. What started with a small chapel in 1646 became a bigger church in 1712 and was finally replaced with the current large neoclassical building, completed in 1873. The Casa da Cultura (Rua Dona Geralda) was originally built in 1754 as a private residence and warehouse. Later it housed the town's public school. In the 1990s, the city restored it to serve as a cultural center and exhibit space.

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