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Gareth Leonard

Picturing Olinda

Located just up the Atlantic coast from central Recife lays one of the best-preserved colonial towns in Brazil.

The beautiful Olinda is quiet, colorful and serves as the perfect counterpart to Recife’s big city hustle and bustle.


Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, Olinda is famous for the abundance of churches, carnival celebrations and breathtaking views.

Camera and spare batteries packed, I made the short journey along the ocean to capture the colors and culture of this picturesque colony frozen in time.

Here’s a taste of Olinda from the viewpoint of my camera lens.


Forget the Portuguese and the Dutch, it seems like children controlled the city when it came time to choosing colors. Bright pink, yellow and blue buildings paint the town while red-tile roofs try to hold on for consistency.

Each home has it’s own personality as the whitewashed churches look on from every angle.


With all the colors and creativity in the streets, Olinda naturally provides a thriving artistic scene that attracts many galleries, workshops and museums to the area.


I popped in and out of a few art galleries and wandered around the side streets just soaking in the rich atmosphere and stunning views.


Seeking refuge from the bright Brazilian sun, I made my way into Sé Cathedral, Olinda’s main church.


While the structure itself is humble in comparison to other elaborate Latin cathedrals I’ve seen, the historical items inside were very interesting. Dating back to the 16th century, I was fascinated by the writings and religious objects that have been conserved here.


All this exploring was making my tummy rumble, so I found a small restaurant with a beautiful view for a hearty lunch. On the menu today was a regional staple – a spicy shrimp stew with passion fruit sauce served in a pumpkin… unbelievable!


With both my camera and stomach full of all the delicious flavors of Olinda, I returned to the fast-pace Recife feeling refreshed and relaxed.

I can definitely picture myself returning to Olinda again soon.

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