The Costa Verde's main attraction, the coastal village of Parati, is about 180 miles south of Rio de Janeiro. Inhabited since 1660, this small town has remained fundamentally unaltered since its heyday. It was a staging post for 18th-century trade in Brazilian gold from Minas Gerais to Portugal. Raids and pirate attacks necessitated the establishment of a new route linking Minas Gerais directly with Rio de Janeiro. A decline in Parati's fortunes resulted; being off the beaten track, it remained quietly hidden away.
Today, the entire town has been declared a national historic monument by UNESCO as one of the most important examples of colonial architecture. With its newly acclaimed status, Parati has become a popular destination. Its beautifully kept colonial buildings line narrow, cobbled streets which are closed to vehicular traffic. Brightly colored flowers adorn picturesque courtyards. The cobblestones of the streets are arranged in channels to drain off storm water and allow the sea to enter and wash the streets at high tides.
Parati's population of some 15,000 people depends on fishing, farming and tourism for its livelihood. Local artists display their attractive crafts in galleries and souvenir shops. The town, reached via a long pier extending from the tender landing, must be explored on foot. Among Parati's attractions is the 1722 Church of Santa Rita de Cassia, a classic example of Brazilian baroque architecture. The surrounding area features a scenic backdrop with green-clad mountains and numerous islands scattered across the bay.