Colorful and Quaint: Olinda

Though it’s technically a city all unto itself, Olinda is smashed right in there with Recife and the public transport links them seamlessly together.   Olinda is one of the oldest towns in Brazil, founded in 1535, and unlike many of the crumbling historic centers in the country, Olinda is very well conserved according to Brazilian standards.  It has, in fact, been designated by UNESCO as a Historical and Cultural Patrimony of Humanity.   As a lover of historic centers and the quaint and colorful buildings, I found Olinda to be full of charm and a nice contrast to the large and hectic historic center of Recife.

olinda historic center, recife, brazil, pernambuco

I visited just a few days before the lively Carnival celebrations so a good number of the buildings were sealed off to protect them from rambunctious revelers.   The old city is perched on the hills, overlooking the tranquil and overly-saturated ocean I’ve become so familiar with in the northeast.   Locals, tourists, and cats go for walks along the waterfront or simply sit and stare out at the bobbing fishing boats while fisherman busy themselves with cleaning out their nets.

olinda, cat overlooking ocean

For me, Olinda is all about color.  The buildings are painted in bright hues, in combinations that cover every color of the rainbow.  Blue, green, pink, orange, yellow.  Some of the houses are decorated by colorful and intricately patterned tiles.  Beautiful churches and monasteries, with architecture characteristic ranging from baroque to rococo, appear in my path.  I use their steeples, cropping up above the buildings, as a guide to their doors.   Perched up on the hill, the view from Igreja Nossa Senhora do Carmo offers great views of the surroundings.

olinda historic center, portuguese colonial architecture

portuguese colonial architecture, brazil, olinda, tiles

colonial architecture portuguese, olinda historic center, windows

Olinda’s beautiful historical buildings are nestled into the landscape, with verdant trees and blossoming flowers adding to the picturesque nature of the city.  You can see the tall buildings of downtown Recife from the hills.

são bento, olinda, centro historic IMG_7672 IMG_7650

It’s a superb place for wandering, the winding streets, paved with cobblestones, leading to ever new and surprising nooks and crannies.  I love seeing the people peaking out from their windows or hanging out on the streets, the old men playing card games or dominoes in the park.

olinda historic center, portuguese colonial architecture, brazil

olinda historic center, brazil people

olinda, carnival, hats

With the sun burning hot, there’s really no choice but to stop for a refreshing juice or açaí bowl:)  I take mine up to the hill and stare out over the orange bricked roofs and towards the ocean.


This is a location you could spend many peaceful days, just chilling out… it’s no small wonder it’s one of the favorite places to visit and party for many, including Brazilians themselves.


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