SLZ - São Luís

São Luís


By Ricardo Freire

Mix the Northeast with the Amazon, France with Portugal, bumba-meu-boi with reggae, and guaraná with Jesus, and the result will be an absolutely unique city.

Founded by French conquerors, São Luís was quickly conquered back by the Portuguese, who left their legacy in the mansions with tile façades that can be seen downtown. African culture is as deep rooted as in Bahia; the candomblé religion is called “tambor-de-mina.” Reggae fell into the natives’ graces, with songs sung in gibberish and danced extremely close, like in forró. Even the guaraná there is original: pink and with a strong cinnamon flavor; it is called Jesus.

Keep getting to know the Lençóis Maranhenses and you will find another unique blend: interminable dunes, punctuated by crystalline lakes and surrounded by Amazonian vegetation.


O que fazer em São Luís

The historical center is worth it, above all, for the mansions turned into cultural centers. Casa do Maranhão (Maranhão House) unveils the universe behind the bumba-meu-boi; Casa da Festa (Party House) sheds some light on tambor-de-mina (candomblé); Casa de Nhozinho (Nhozinho’s House) displays popular art. The Arthur Azevedo Theater and the Convent of the Mercês offer guided visits. Finish your tour at the Casa das Tulhas market, the best place to buy souvenirs.

The city’s waterfront is extensive; the most desirable segment is São Marcos beach, located between Ponta de Areia (Sand Point) and Calhau (Boulder).

In Alcântara, don’t forget to taste “doce de espécie,” a local delicacy. But when you visit Lençóis Maranhenses, don’t do it in a hurry: you’ll need four days just to see the essentials.