"Alcantara" Alcântara by mircaskirca

Alcântara Travel Guide: 15 reviews and 99 photos

Historic Town with a Laid-back Feel

If you like history, you have to visit a town that seems to have stopped in time - Alcantara. The town is set in a wonderful tropical landscape on the other side of the Baia de Sao Marcos from Sao Luis. Founded in the 17th century, it was one of the richest and most important towns in Maranhao and the seat of the rural aristocracy.

While the town has been in decline since the latter half of the 19th century, it is still considered an architectural treasure. Alcantara is virtually untouched and was listed as a National Heritage Site in 1948. It has an outstanding architectural heritage, with over 300 colonial buildings as well as some interesting ruins. Heart of the town is Praca da Matriz, a square plaza surrounded by colonial buildings, a pelourinho (pillory), ruins of the Igreja Mariz de Sao Matias and century old trees.

Beside the ancient, Alcantara has been home to a sample of modern air-space technology since the 80s. One of the most modern Latin American space bases, where satellite launching projects are developed, is installed just 7 km from the town.

Alcantara has also some nice deserted beaches, accessible by canoe. Even better is to sail through igarapes (mangroves) and visit Ilha do Cajual, an island where you can see beautiful guaras (red ibis).

You get to Alcantara by boat from Sao Luis. The journey takes about an hour.

  • Last visit to Alcântara: Jan 2008
  • Intro Updated Jan 30, 2009
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Reviews (10)

Comments (6)

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Dec 16, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    Mira, this looks indeed like a town where the time has stopped. Fabulous little page with an interesting review of your "temporary home".

    • mircaskirca's Profile Photo
      Dec 22, 2013 at 1:05 AM

      thanks Holger! I have very fond memories of my two visits of this charming little town. merry Christmas! :)

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Jul 11, 2009 at 4:48 PM

    I wouldlove this place,Mira.History and beautiful architecture. And the BIRDS!! Mangrove & accomodation pics reminded me of Sunderbans. Our cottage there was so similar.

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    May 10, 2009 at 6:00 PM

    I amso love cobblestone streets and it will take a while to restore the churches at Alcantara...beautiful place, Norman:)

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Jan 30, 2009 at 3:33 AM

    A fantastic little page on a perfect spot! Alcântara looks like exactly the type of place I too would love - a boat trip to reach it, tropical palms, Scarlet Ibis and beaches, historic Portugese buildings in a small town and just chilling out!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Sep 27, 2008 at 2:46 AM

    Interesting photos of the preserved but shabby (certainly authentic-looking) architecture in your travelogues and tips. And that tropical breakfast looks great!

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Sep 17, 2008 at 10:28 AM

    Sounds like a place I would love: cobbeled streets and colonial buildings, yummy food and hammocks! Great tips Mira!

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