Paraty remais one of the country’s major tourist attraction with its cobblestone streets, antique lamps and 19th century homes.
Declared a historical monument by Unesco, Paraty is a small colonial town, surrounded by forested hills.
Paraty was originally inhabited by the Guianas Indians, but in the early part of the 16th century the Portuguese started to settle here. During the years that followed, with the discovery of the gold in Minas Gerais, it gradually became a busy, important port; miners and supplies disembarked for the gold mines and gold was shipped to Europe. As a result, the small town prospered and many of the churches that can still be seen today were built at this time. There was so much wealth in Paraty that in 1711 captain Francisco do Amaral Gurgel sailed from Paraty to save Rio de Janeiro from a threatened French siege by handing over a ransom of 1000 crates of sugar, 200 head of cattle and 610,000 gold cruzados.
However, the town´s glory was short-lived as, in the 1720s, a new road was built from Rio to Minas Gerais and thus cut Paraty off the route. It was only in the 19th century that the local economy revived with the coffee boom and today the tourist industry keeps the economy thriving.
There is a small airport in Paraty, but most people usually go by bus or car from Rio or Sao Paulo. To get there from Rio, it is about a three and half hour journey along the beautiful coast. The journey from Sao Paulo takes about five and a half hours by car, but for busy executives small charter flights from Sao Paulo can be arranged.