From Recife, Pernambuco
To São Luis, Maranhão
Distance: ~ 1,600 km (1,000 miles)
São Luís do Maranhão is the only Brazilian state capital founded and ruled by the French, later being defeated by the Portuguese.
Founded in 1612, the city is named after French King Louis XIII. After the French left, São Luis was also occupied by the Dutch, until the Portuguese colonizers took over.
Unfortunately, not a lot of material evidence remains from the French and Dutch periods, but the historic downtown buildings (+ 3,500), mainly covered with tiles in the manner of Portuguese architecture, respond for naming São Luis a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1997. Brazilian folkloric traditions, cultural expressions, and a resemblance with the “caribbean reggae” are well alive in São Luís. The most important among them is the bumba-meu-boi, a festive pantomime which takes place during June Festivals.
São Luís is known as Brazil’s Reggae Capital. Cultural affinities between São Luís and the not-so-distant Caribbean turned reggae into a local passion with unique traits such as “cheek-to-cheek” dancing and distinct lingo.