"A City with Rich Afro-Brazilian Culture"
São Luís is the capital of Brazilian state of Maranhao and it's located on São Luís island, known as Island of Love. Originally it was a large village of the Tupinamba tribe. Since being established, São Luís (Saint-Louis) has had a long multicultural history. Founded in 1612 by a Frenchman Daniel de la Touche, and proclaimed capital of Western France under Louis XIV, the city was quickly conquered by the Dutch, before falling under the dominion of the Portuguese.
Throught the centuries, successive mixing of African, Native Indian and European populations give São Luís a contemporary feel and a most important historical and cultural heritage. Although founded by the French rather then Portuguese, it is the most Portuguese of all cities in the region. In 1997 the city's historical centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Starting in 1989 there has been an extensive program to restore and renovate the colonial era buildings of the city's historical centre, called Projeto Reviver by locals.
The main tourist attractions of São Luís is the historical centre with over 3.500 buildings from 17th to 19th centuries. The Centro Historico is a type of open-air museum filled with uncountable architectural elements and details, such as azulejos (which most of the houses are covered in), picturesque windows, doors and balconies, cobblestone, narrow streets, inviting the visitor to wonder about the rich past of this one time prestigious and promising Brazilian city. Every street has story to tell, either about an important individual or a mythical character. The project of rehabilitation by the state government encouraged private investment in the area and resulted in the opening of stores, movie theatres, museums, bars, restaurants and small hotels.
An old slaving port, São Luís has a large black population and has preserved much African culture - popular traditions and festivals, such as Tambor de Crioula and Bumba-meu-boi and lively reggae parties that make the culture of São Luís stand out among Brazilian cities.
You can do some lovely side trips while you are in São Luís. Worth exploring are Alcantara, São José de Ribamar and Raposa.