My final blog from our trip to Brazil, the wonderful town of Parati.
Parati or Paraty, pronounced “Par-a-CHEE” is a preserved Portuguese colonial town located on the Costa Verde (Green Coast) coastline of the state of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. The town is located on the Bay of Ilha Grande, which is dotted with many tropical islands. Rising up as high as 1,300 meters behind the town are tropical forests, mountains, and waterfalls.
Paraty was founded formally as a town by Portuguese colonizers in 1667, in a region populated by the Guaianás Indians. In the Tupi language “Paraty” means “river of fish”. When the region was colonized by the Portuguese, they adopted the Guaianás name for their new town.
After the discovery of the world’s richest gold mines in 1696 in the mountains of Minas Gerais, Paraty became an export port for gold to Rio de Janeiro and from there on to Portugal. Eventually the gold began to run out and in the late 18th century, Paraty declined at a commercial port for gold.
The city’s economic activity revived as a port for a new boom, Coffee in the early 19th century, until a railway along the valley created cheaper transport to the port of Rio de Janeiro. Another smaller revival came late in the 19th century with the production of cachaça, which is a sugarcane-derived spirit best known today as the basis for Brazil’s most famous drink, the caipirinha. Since then, Paraty has been out of the mainstream, until a paved road was built from Rio de Janeiro to Santos in São Paulo state in the 1970’s. The city then began a new cycle of activity, which transformed a small, almost abandoned town living on very limited economic activity, mainly fishing and agriculture into a tourism destination.