Footprints of the past: World Heritage sites in Brazil – Part 3

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Brazil is a real hub of culture that’s charming and interesting to explore, so let’s continue with the third part of our series about World Heritage sites in Brazil.

We begin our journey at the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas, a significant site of Catholic pilgrimage located in Minas Gerais. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is best known for its basilica, with its rococo interior and soapstone statues of the prophets sculpted by Aleijadinho, one of Brazil’s most celebrated artists. Built in the second half of the 18th century, the complex stands as a remarkable testimony to the cultural and artistic flourishing of the Brazilian Baroque period. The Sanctuary comprises six chapels, an outdoor stairway, and a church. A unique element is a stairway with twelve soapstone statues of the prophets leading toward the entrance, where you can admire the church’s impressive interior, rich with masterful Italian-inspired Rococo artworks

Our exciting route takes us to the Town of São Cristóvão, the fourth oldest city in Brazil and the oldest in the state of Sergipe. São Cristóvão’s historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a testament to the town’s significance during the colonial period. Its charming streets are lined with well-preserved colonial architecture, including churches and colonial houses that hark back to a bygone era. The town’s São Francisco Square is an exceptional example of the period when the Portuguese and Spanish crowns were united. As a result, São Francisco Square is a plaza mayor surrounded by remarkable Portuguese buildings such as São Francisco Church and Convent, the Church and Santa Casa da Misericórdia, the Provincial Palace, and 18th- and 19th-century houses.

The final destination of today’s journey takes us to the port of the famous Rio de Janeiro or ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ – the Marvelous City. Nestled between the Coelho e Castro and Sacadura Cabral streets is an old dock. The pier was built in 1811 and operated 20 years before the ban of the Atlantic slave trade to Brazil and it was enlisted on the UNESCO world heritage list in 2017, and today remains the most crucial physical indication of the African slave trade in South America.

From the outstretched arms of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain, to the undulating design of the Copacabana promenade, Rio’s charm is undeniable. The city’s pulsating samba rhythms, the spectacle of its Carnival, the awe-inspiring vista from Sugarloaf Mountain, and the cultural haven of the Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) all form part of the city’s unique cultural identity. Rio is an exhilarating finale to our journey, encapsulating the spirit, vibrancy, and splendour of Brazil.

And here we are, at the final of today’s diverse journey through Brazil’s UNESCO world heritage sites. Join us as we discover the next three Brazilian UNESCO jewels in our next episode. See you soon.

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