Every village or town in the world has a city center of some sort, but only a select few are made UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Historic Centre of the Town of Goiás in Brazil has this distinction. Rightfully so- it's one of the most beautiful city centers in the world. It symbolizes so much of the area's culture that it has to be protected for years and years to come to continue attracting travelers.
The Centre And Its Surroundings Have A Harmonious Connection
Built between two hills alongside the Rio Vermelho, Goiás is very much enclosed in its own little world. Colonized in the 18th and 19th centuries, the area was organically developed and is a perfect example of an old mining town. Every building, private or public, was built with local materials. It is essentially a European city adapted to take in the climate and geology of South America.
On the right, there is the church of Rosario, which was given to the slaves of the time. On the left side, there are clusters of buildings. You can visit the parish church (now the cathedral) of Santana, the Governor's Palace, the barracks, the foundry, the Praça do Chafariz, and the hill of Chapeu do Padre. Among all these sites, there are the residential areas and the marketplace.
The city is believed to have been a part of expeditions, or bandeiras, which left from São Paulo. Colonists wanted to explore the interior of the Brazilian territory. They found a relatively protected area surrounded by hills, a waterway, and a plethora of local materials. It became the first settlement situated outside the demarcation line of the Treaty of Tordesillas, which made up the boundaries owned by the Portuguese.
The city has seen few changes, but they stuck to using local materials and old techniques to help keep the city's integrity whenever there have been changes. The modest tourism infrastructure has also added to its authenticity.
Still, the center is a massive part of the city's cultural and social makeup. It's where everyone goes to celebrate traditions. In experiencing all this, don't forget to pick up one of the famous pies, called empadão de Goiás, and try their fresh juice.
Traveling there during Easter could be a good idea if you want to see one of the city's most popular festivals, the Procession of the Fogaréu. It is celebrated on the Wednesday before Easter Sunday. During the ceremony, the farricocos dress in medieval robes and hoods and reenact Jesus' arrest by the Romans by running down the streets at midnight with torches and the sound of drums. There is also the International Environmental Film and Video Festival, which attracts tourists from all over the world annually.
Goiás has its own culture and identity, but Europe, Spain, and Portugal have also influenced the city. The urban settlement blends in with its surroundings perfectly, and since everything is modest and untouched, it lets you experience the city and its center naturally, without having it feel like a tourist town. Call your travel advisor when you want to visit this hidden gem in the Brazilian hills.