The Historic Centre of São Luis has the largest and best preserved heritages of colonial Portuguese architecture of all Latin America.
The first Europeans to see it were the French, in 1612, who intended to make it a French colony. They made a fort named São Luis ("Saint Louis"), after Saint Louis IX of France as a compliment to King Louis XIII. It was conquered for Portugal by Jerónimo de Albuquerque in 1615, leaving little time for the French to build a city.
The core zone includes public buildings, sumptuous manor houses, marble multi-storey houses and small houses decorated with azulejos.
Cleve Hardman - July 2016
I have made three trips to Sao Luis and I have been able to explore the Historic Centre. The area is like a living time capsule in that the hand-painted tile and cobblestone streets have withstood the test of time. Perhaps best of all is the area continues to be full of life. It incorporates shops, restaurants, offices and living quarters. This affords a chance to fully engage the unique qualities of the area.
João Aender Campos Cremasco - November 2012
I was in São Luís, capital of the State of Maranhão, for a weekend last August. Most tourists don't spend much time in São Luís, rather go as soon as possible to the nearby Lençóis Maranhenses, a paradisiac complex of fresh water lagoons formed on the dunes.
Anyway, São Luís was the only city in Brazil founded by the French (hence named after the French King St.Louis IX), but very little of French heritage is left.
The main attractions are the Government Palace, some historic museums and the "tiled buildings", designed with the purpose of isolating their interior from the intense heat (the city is close to the Equator).
From all the 16 WHS I already visited in Brazil, this was the one I least wanted to go - it is far from São Paulo (a 3,5 hour-flight)and most buildings lack proper maintainance -, but I ended up enjoying. In any case, it is usually interesting to go to the least visited and off-the-beaten-track WHS.
It's such a wonderful Island...I live there, but right now I'm an exchange student here in USA.
There are attractions for all kinds of tastes. Great beaches. Good to surf, and play a lot of summer sports. Also one of the most famous place to sendboard. Very fun. It's very close to snowboard.
The nights are perfect!!! A lot of night clubs, Bars, show houses, movies, theatres.
Sao luis is also a historical city. Downtown you can see old French and Portuguese buildings, and all kind of artcraft.
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Full name: Historic Centre of São Luis
1997 - InscribedReasons for inscription
The site has 10 connections.
- Neoclassical architecture "a number of public buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, which are largely in neoclassical style" (AB ev)
Religion and Belief
- Cathedrals Cat Met Nossa Senorha da Vitoria
- Built in the 17th century French colonization and street pattern
- Built or owned by Dutch The Dutch captured it from Portugal in 1641 and stayed until 1645.
- Built or owned by French In 1612 the French built a fort on the site of a "large village of the Tupinamba tribe" (Wiki) as part of the creation of the intended colony of France ?quinoxiale. Less than 4 years later it was taken by the Portuguese.
- Built or owned by Portuguese The Historic Centre of Sao Luis is an outstanding example of a Portuguese colonial town; The Portuguese Jerónomo de Albuquerque drove them [the French] out in 1615 (AB ev)
- Dubbed as another WHS "Brazilian Athens" (apparently due to its due to its many poets and writers, which would link it to the Acropolis)
- Named after individual people After Saint Louis IX of France as a compliment to King Louis XIII