National Heritage cities boost tourism in Brazil
Brazil has had a total 83 sites and urban ensembles listed by the National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute (Iphan) as historical heritage sites in all regions of the country. Iphan is responsible for the protection and promotion of Brazilian cultural assets, ensuring their permanence and use for present and future generations.
In total, Iphan protects some 20,000 buildings, 25,000 archaeological sites, 42 immaterial goods and 250,000 bibliographic volumes, as well as several architectural and rural ensembles, buildings, gardens and historic parks, all of which add great value to the many historical tourist destinations scattered throughout the country. Check out some of the main ones below:
The region is home to most of the 67 cities listed as national heritage in Brazil, including 31 municipalities with areas under the protection of the institute. Highlights among these include the architectonic and landscape ensemble of the upper city of Porto Seguro (Bahia), considered the birthplace of the Brazilian nation and listed in 1968; the religious architecture ensemble of Olinda (Pernambuco), the second city in the country to be listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in 1982; the São Luís (Maranhão) historical city centre, listed by Iphan in 1974; the examples of the Portuguese overseas urbanism in Salvador (Bahia); the cities of Lençóis, Mucugê and Rio de Contas (all in Bahia); and Igatu, a town in the municipality of Andaraí (part of the Chapada Diamantina plateau).
The cultural and historical wealth of Brazil's most populous region also attracts attention. The southeast is home to several major cultural attractions, such as Diamantina and Ouro Preto (the first city in Brazil to be listed by Unesco) in Minas Gerais state, a number of historical municipalities on the coast of Rio de Janeiro, such as Arraial do Cabo and Cabo Frio; the Paranapiacaba Railway Village, located in the municipality of Santo André (São Paulo), which has unique influences of English culture; and the architectural and landscape ensemble of the Getúlio Vargas Square in Nova Friburgo (Rio de Janeiro), whose designs were commissioned by French botanist and landscape artist Auguste François Marie Glaziou.
The southernmost states of Brazil also offer a wide variety of historical destinations. These include the scenic beauties of the historic centre of Antonina (Paraná), a coastal municipality located between the Serra do Mar mountain chain and Paranaguá Bay; the cultural assets dating back to the time of the Farroupilha Revolution and the battles between the kingdoms of Portugal and Spain in several cities of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, such as Porto Alegre, General Câmara, Jaguarão and Santa Tereza; and the 43 archaeological sites of Laguna (SC), which is the birthplace of revolutionary Anita Garibaldi.
The region is home to two extremes of Brazilian cultural heritage. On the one hand, there are cities that bring with them the legacy of the bandeirantes colonisers and the gold rush in the region in the eighteenth century, such as Cidade de Goiás and Pirenópolis (GO), as well as municipalities with a strong indigenous heritage, such as Cáceres (MT). On the other, there is the urbanistic modernism of the works of Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa's urban planning designs for Brasilia, the first 20th-century urban ensemble to be recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
The five cities of the region listed as heritage include two capitals that developed along the rubber cycle of the late nineteenth century: Belém, with its architectural, urban and landscapes, and Manaus, whose historic centre was listed by Iphan in 2012. They are joined by the municipalities of Porto Nacional (Tocantis), with its buildings built by Dominican friars, Vila Serra do Navio (Amapá), which experienced the golden age of manganese mining, and Natividade (also in Tocantins), with its unique colonial urban structures.