Sao Luis

The first thing to do when arriving in Sao Luis is to forget to classify it. We are in the Northeast or North? In the two and none of them, therefore the city if presents in a stonishing mixture of these regions added to other particularitities.
The city of Is Luis was born multicultural. Established in 1.612 by Frenchmen, it was disputed by the dutches, until the Portuguese had retaken it. Curiously it is known as one of the most portuguese Brazilian cities. The cohabitance of whites, indians and blacks bequeathed to the future generations a historic site and cultural heritage of rare beauty.
In 1.997, the importance of this patrimony was recognized by UNESCO "it does not exist in the world nothing equal to the cultural quantity and architectural of São Luís". Congregating more than 3,000 constructions, the historical Center of São Luís allows the visitor a vertiginous sensation of a trip through the time. Trip of first classroom, if considered the homogeneity and imponence of the colonial, inspired casario of painters, romancistas and poets. Partially recouped and preserved, the Historical quarter of São Luís, where was concentrated the boiling activity of the city in the past, today exhibits more than 200 constructions restored in more than 10,7 hectares.
Are innumerable and tempting the curiosities that surround the Historical Center of São Luís. Its streets possess poetical names and are covered with the brightness of the tiled façades and the beauty of the countless roofs. The tiles are Portuguese, French and Dutch, as almost everything that says respect to the history of the Island of Upaon Açu (Great Island for the Tupinambás indians). It has Portuguese rocks over the secular sidewalks where at least one time, passed by names like Goncalves Dias and Aluísio de Azevedo. Each alley and each corner has a history to be counted. Perhaps that's why there's a legend: "Who spends the night here, wakes up poet".
Known as "land of the palms", Maranhão has on some species of this tree its main source of income. The most significant of the economic point of view is babaçu. Farming, industries of alumina and aluminum transformation, and the industries nourishing and lumber complement the state economy.
In contrast to other states of the Northeast region, the Maranhão does not suffer with dries. An extensive net of perennial rivers exists in its territory, beyond a regular rainy station. The river Parnaíba, the greater of them, and the rivers Gurupi, Grajaú and Tocantins are part of this net, at the border of Maranhão with the state of Tocantins flows to the south delimiting their border.


The important strength of cultural manifestations as the bumba-meu-boi and the Tambor de Crioula (drum-of-Creole) - to be in only two examples - is one of the reasons for which nobody visits São Luís unpunishedly. In a city that modernizes herself in wide steps, is emotive to evidence the almost mystical respect that its inhabitants, without social class differences, keep for its cultural traditions. The same pride for the São Luís of the great writers is demonstrated ahead of the craftsmen of the popular culture.
In São Luís, all seem to recognize that everything gushes out of the same source, that the scholar not subsiste without the strong substratum of the popular culture.
Affirmation of life in auto of death and a ressureição, the "bumba-meu-boi" synthecizes aboriginal, Portuguese and African influences in festive reference to the cycle of the cattle in the State.
The "tambor-de-crioula" (drum-of-Creole), is an African inheritance in almost natural state, as well as the "Tambor-de-mina" (drum of mine), of religious character, that sends to candomblé through the cults of Jeje and Nagô, impressively preserved in its original dialects.
The "Festa do Divino Espirito Santo" (Party of the Espirito Santo), of Portuguese origin, dance of Sao Gonçalo, cacuriá, caroço and lelê completes the Empire of the Tambores (drums), where the ludovicense soul beats stronger.
The parties calendar of São Luís starts in February, with one of the most calm and fun street carnivals of the Country. The party is guaranteed by a variety of tricks as fofões, tribes of indians, bears, casinha de roça, traditional drum-of-Creole, bands and blocks of rhythm, beyond the parades of the samba schools. The certain address of the party is the quarter of the Madre Deus, next to the Historical Center, responsible for the retaken one of the authentic vocation of the carnival of the island.
But the month par excellence of the great maranhense popular party is June, when the island is transformed into a great "arraial", that consumes and returns renewed the energy of the "brincantes". Natives or not, doesn't matter, all messed themselves in an explosion of joy, sounds and colors.
It is time to beat the drums of São Luís. The bumba-meu-boi, with accents of the matraca, orchestres and zabumba is the great master of ceremonies of this delirious spectacle at open sky. Each accent, a personal marks, of involving and irresistible magic. But it is necessary breath and some "catuaba" to still follow the "umbigadas" of the drum-of-Creole (known as the dance of the black saint for being on to the devotion to Saint Benedict), quadrilhas,dança do coco (dance of the coconut), cacuriá-lelê, Sao Gonçalo, bambaê de caixa, Portuguese dances, of ribbon and others.


The reference to legends and mysteries is obligatory when speaking of São Luís, for much that's said from popular imaginary. It can be affirmed, without exaggerate, that party and mystery are two vocations of the maranhense people, being the party the proper celebration of the mystery, the example of the Festa do Divino. According to older legends of the island (the miracle of Duaxenduba), of epic ratios, the proper Virgin Maria would have gone down from the skies to help the Portuguese battalions to banish the Frenchmen in 1.615.
Already the controverted historical figure of Lady Ana Jansen, lady of slaves, of great ieconomic and politics influence in the São Luís of century XIX, originated one of the most spreaded out legends in the first half of the century, thanks in part, to the deficient supplying of electric energy. As penance for its cruelties against the slaves, Ana Jansen would have been condemned to ramble at the streets of the city in the friday nights, in a covered cart pulled for decapitated horses, under the command of a coachman equally mutilated.
She has also the Legend of the Asleep Serpent, that encircles the island and one day will have to close its mortal hug, making the island of São Luís to disappear in the ocean.
The Legend of the Manguda is dated of the last century and had origin in a humbug idealized and ordered by contraband traders in the merchandises - mainly European fabric - introduced in the local market without the payment of the due tributes. The ghost figure, created for the smugglers soon was baptized of Manguda, in virtue to wear chambre white, of wide and very long sleeves. The face was hidden by a mask and from the head a smoke cloud was born.

Source: BRAZIL. Ministry of the Interior. Foundation of the Rondon Project historical Monuments of the Maranhão. São Luís

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