OLINDA is, quite simply, one of the largest and most beautiful complexes of colonial architecture in Brazil: a maze of cobbled streets, hills crowned with brilliant white churches, pastel-coloured houses, Baroque fountains and graceful squares. Not surprisingly, in 1982 it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Founded in 1535, the old city is spread across several small hills looking back towards Recife, but it belongs to a different world. In many ways, Olinda is the Greenwich Village of Recife; it’s here that many of the larger city’s artists, musicians and liberal professionals live, and there’s a significant gay community. Olinda is most renowned, though, for its Carnaval, famous throughout Brazil, which attracts visitors from all over the country, as well as sizeable contingents from Europe.

  • Carnaval and other festivals