Located on the Costa Verde (Green Coast), a lush, green corridor that runs along the coastline of the state of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, Paraty (or Parati) [pronounced Par-a-CHEE] is a preserved Portuguese colonial and Brazilian Imperial (1822-1889) town. Paraty has become a popular tourist area in recent years, renowned for the beauty of the town and the magnificence of the coast and mountains in the region.
The town is located on the Bay of Ilha Grande, which is dotted with many tropical islands. Rising up some 1,000 meters behind the town are the tropical forests, mountains, and waterfalls.
Paraty is surrounded by many Nature Parks including Serra da Bocaina National Park, Serra do Mar State Park, the Park Reserve of Joatinga and the Environmentally Protected Area of Cairuçu, where the village of Trindade is located.
The temperature in Paraty ranges from 64F - 80F, (18C to 30C), though the summer months could be even hotter. However, sea breezes temper the heat and afternoon rains are common in the Summer making the city a popular destination for visitors from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, the rest of Brazil, and the world.
After the discovery of the world's richest gold mines in 1696 in the mountains of Minas Gerais, Paraty became an export port for gold to Rio de Janeiro and from there on to Portugal. The ensuing gold rush led to the construction of the "Caminho do Ouro" or "Gold Trail", a 1200 kilometer road, paved in steep areas with large stones, which connected Paraty to Diamantina via Ouro Preto and Tiradentes. Not only was it was used to transport gold to Paraty, but it was also used to convey supplies, miners and African slaves by mule train over the mountains to and from the gold mining areas. Two substantial sections of the Caminho do Ouro have been excavated near Paraty and are now a popular tourist destination for hiking.
The city's economic activity revived as a port for a new boom, the coffee trade of the Paraiba do Sul River Valley in the early 1800s, until a railway along the valley created cheaper transport to the port of Rio de Janeiro.
Another smaller revival came late in the 19th century with the production of cachaça, which is a sugarcane-derived spirit best known today as the basis for Brazil's most famous drink, the caipirinha. The name "Paraty" in that period became synonymous with cachaça. Since then, Paraty has been out of the mainstream, which is why it did not change for centuries, until a paved road was built from Rio de Janeiro to Santos, near São Paulo, in the 1970s. The city then began a new cycle of activity, which transformed a small, almost abandoned town living on very limited economic activity, mainly fishing and agriculture (bananas, manioc, sugarcane]] into what is now known as one of the "must see" tourism attractions in Brazil.
The city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1966.