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 São Luís - Maranhão


Sao Luis was the last city I visited before losing myself in the wildness of the Amazonia… The city was full of colours and decoration due to the famous celebrations of São João.

São Luís is the capital of the Brazilian state Maranhão. It is known for its colonial Historical Center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a common stopover for visiting the stunning Lençóis Maranhenses.  São Luís's people, history and culture is marked by a distinctive fusion of Portuguese, indigenous Brazilian and African elements, such as its highly popular Bumba meu boi festival, happening yearly in June and July. The reggae music from the Caribbean is also immensely popular in São Luís, often referred to as the "Brazilian Jamaica". The city was discovered by the French invaders in 1612, and taken over by the Portuguese in 1615. It was subsequently conquered by Dutch invaders in 1641, and finally, retaken over for good by the Portuguese in 1644. The city prospered between the 17th and 19th centuries by means of export-oriented plantations (especially cotton) and slave trade. The city's Historical Center, a World heritage site, with buildings with beautiful azulejo (tiled) walls and the cobblestone streets, was built during this era.

I had the chance to visit Sao Luis during the festival of Sao Joao. The entire city was full of colour and celebrations which took place every day… Festas Juninas , also known as festas de São João for their part in celebrating the nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24), is the annual Brazilian celebration adapted from European Midsummer that take place in the southern midwinter. These festivities, which were introduced by the Portuguese during the colonial period (1500-1822), are celebrated during the month of June nationwide. The festival is mainly celebrated on the eve of the Catholic solemnities of Saint Anthony, Saint John the Baptist, and Saint Peter..  Since North-eastern Brazil is largely arid or semi-arid, these festivals not only coincide with the end of the rainy seasons of most states in the northeast, but they also provide people with an opportunity to give thanks to Saint John for the rain. They also celebrate rural life and feature typical clothing, food, and dance (particularly quadrilha, which is similar to square dancing).


As my tourist visa was running out .. I only had a chance to stay a few days in São Luis .. my next and last stop in Brasil would be in the rainforest of the Amazonia and its incredible diversity.


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