Paraty is a lovely 17th century town that has been perfectly preserved thanks to a long period of isolation. The colonial town boomed during the heyday of the sugar trade as the main port for its export the town also became the centre for the production of the Brazilian cane rum, Cachaca, that is the essential ingredient of a caipirinha. The arrival of other, more accessible ports, led to the decline of the town and it remained virtually cut off until the middle of the 20th Century. The opening of the Rio-Santos highway in the late seventies led to its rebirth as a tourist destination.
Paraty was declared a National Historical Monument in 1966 thereby safeguarding the preservation of the Historical Center. The winding, narrow streets paved with giant cobble stones were designed to protect the town from pirate raids and curiously, for a seaside town, most of the houses have their backs to the sea. Small fishermen’s cottages and vast merchants mansions stand side by side, all white stucco with brightly coloured shutters and doors. Vehicles are banned from the old town, and the wealth of art galleries, shops and restaurants are explored on foot. Bring flat shoes – Paraty and heels do not mix!