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São Luis

São Luis
The Historic Centre of São Luis has the largest and best preserved heritages of colonial Portuguese architecture of all Latin America. The first Europeans to see it were the French, in 1612, who intended to make it a French colony. They made a fort named São Luis ("Saint Louis"), after Saint Louis IX of France as a compliment to King Louis XIII. It was conquered for Portugal by Jerónimo de Albuquerque in 1615, leaving little time for the French to build a city.

The core zone includes public buildings, sumptuous manor houses, marble multi-storey houses and small houses decorated with azulejos.


João Aender Campos Cremasco (Brazil):
I was in São Luís, capital of the State of Maranhão, for a weekend last August. Most tourists don't spend much time in São Luís, rather go as soon as possible to the nearby Lençóis Maranhenses, a paradisiac complex of fresh water lagoons formed on the dunes.
Anyway, São Luís was the only city in Brazil founded by the French (hence named after the French King St.Louis IX), but very little of French heritage is left.
The main attractions are the Government Palace, some historic museums and the "tiled buildings", designed with the purpose of isolating their interior from the intense heat (the city is close to the Equator).
From all the 16 WHS I already visited in Brazil, this was the one I least wanted to go - it is far from São Paulo (a 3,5 hour-flight)and most buildings lack proper maintainance -, but I ended up enjoying. In any case, it is usually interesting to go to the least visited and off-the-beaten-track WHS.
Date posted: November 2012
Humberto (Brazil):
It's such a wonderful Island...I live there, but right now I'm an exchange student here in USA.
There are attractions for all kinds of tastes. Great beaches. Good to surf, and play a lot of summer sports. Also one of the most famous place to sendboard. Very fun. It's very close to snowboard.
The nights are perfect!!! A lot of night clubs, Bars, show houses, movies, theatres.
Sao luis is also a historical city. Downtown you can see old French and Portuguese buildings, and all kind of artcraft.

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Site info

Historic Centre of São Luis
Country: Brazil
Inscribed: 1997
Cultural Heritage
Criteria:  (3) (4) (5)
Category: Urban landscape, Colonial

Site history:
1997 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription

Site links

Official website:
»Visit Sao Luis

In the news:
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Related links:
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Related Forum posts:
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Getting there

This WHS has 1 location(s).


Neoclassical architecture .
Built or owned by Portuguese . Glazed tiles . Theatres .
Religion and Belief
Cathedrals .
Built in the 17th century .
Built or owned by Dutch . Built or owned by French . Dubbed as another WHS . Named after individual people .

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