When provided an opportunity to travel to a distant location, most people probably focus solely on the opportunity to get away, relax, unwind, and have fun. While all of the mentioned reasons for being excited about a vacation are completely understandable and within good reason, as business culture is very taxing on an employee’s mind and body, do not underestimate another additional feature to traveling to an exotic location – immersing oneself in a totally new and foreign culture.

The opportunity to experience culture that is unlike your own is simply yet another added benefit to using incentive travel trips as a motivational tool to get employees to work that much better in order to earn what can quite literally become the opportunity of a lifetime. 

Brazil, primary known as a tropical destination for its beautiful and scenic landscapes, is also home of a huge number of historical cites, and many cities tell the trajectory of Brazilian society in their urban and architectural aspects.

Some moments in history were decisive for the production of monuments and cities that are today preserved by the Brazilian government. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, the control and defense of the territory, along the production of agricultural and mineral wealth, drew the map of the country’s occupation and produced exceptional monuments and complexes.

What is a historic city?

Historic cities are active human settlements strongly conditioned by a physical structure originating in the past and recognizable as representing the evolution of its people.

In other words, they are places that keep memories of a town in its historic buildings, such as churches, mansions, museums, streets and squares. Just walking through them is possible to understand what the life of those people was like, their habits and daily routines. Some of these cities are considered by UNESCO as Historical and Cultural Heritage of Humanity and cannot be demolished or modified. 

Here´s 4 important historic cities that that are worth a closer look when planning your incentive trip.

Olinda, Pernambuco

Imagem de árvores, lago e igreja ao fundo

Olinda, just 7 km away from Recife, is well known for its carnival parties, mainly for the iconic and funny giant dolls, the Bonecos de Olinda which parades at Carnaval. But it’s not just partying that the city lives. Founded in 1535, Olinda was a highly developed region in the Brazilian northeast and stage of several events in the Colonial Period.


This historic city of Pernambuco was the first Brazilian city to be elected the Brazilian Capital of Culture in 2006. Listed as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco in 1982 and designated as a National Monument by a Brazilian Federal Law in 1980, Olinda holds countless artistic and cultural riches, from the magnificent buildings in colonial style to the famous dances and blocos at Carnaval.


The city’s history continues to be told through chapels, churches, mansions and gardens remaining from the 17th century. Even the Historic Center of Olinda is considered a Historical and Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.


With its irregular layout, its monumental buildings erected on top of the hills overlooking the green sea and its houses meandering on the slopes, Olinda is a magnificent example of informal urbanism, typical of Portuguese colonization in Brazil.


Main historical attractions of Olinda:


  • Basilica of São Bento, which boasts an altar coated with 28 kg of gold;
  • São Francisco Convent, which houses the Nossa Senhora das Neves Church and three Baroque-style chapels;
  • Sé Church, the city’s postcard;
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, built in 1765 to hold prisoners of the inquisition.


Salvador, Bahia

Imagem do museu nautico da Bahia em salvador

Salvador, which was once the headquarters of the administration in the colonial period, could not be missing from any list of historic cities in Brazil. Founded by the Portuguese Tomé de Sousa in 1549, the region was named “São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos” (Saint Savior of Bahia of All Saint).


The architectural, landscape and urban complex contained in the historic center of Salvador, it´s one of the most important examples of Portuguese overseas urbanism, implemented on two levels: the administrative and residential functions at the top, and the port and commerce on the seafront. Allied to a unique topography, the landscape of the city is basically formed by buildings from the 16th to the 19th centuries, in which monumental sets of religious, civil and military architecture still stand out.


Currently, the capital of Bahia preserves many works and heritage from the colonial era. In addition, it has a strong influence of African culture in its religion and festivals. The city is home to one of the most famous historic places in Brazil, Pelourinho. a neighborhood whose architectural ensemble was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Amidst the stone slopes, there are Catholic temples such as the Igreja de São Francisco, a beautiful baroque work, and also mansions remaining from the 18th century, which are now museums, restaurants, candomble terreiros, etc.


Ouro Preto , Minas Gerais

Imagens de construções antigas da cidade de Ouro Preto com a luz do por do sol

When talking about historic places to visit in Brazil, Minas Gerais is likely to be one of the first options to come to mind. And that´s justifiable: Ouro Preto, for example, has the largest and most important collection of architecture and art from the colonial period in the country. Walking along its many slopes and alleys is really like traveling back in time.


​One of the first Brazilian cities listed by IPHAN, in 1938, and the first Brazilian city to receive the title of Cultural Heritage of Humanity, conferred by Unesco, in 1980, the city plays an important role in the history of Brazil: stage of the Inconfidência Mineira, it was once the capital of the state of Minas Gerais and was very popular during the period of gold exploration.


Its colonial urban layout remains intact and the same occurs with the most expressive examples of religious and civil architecture, and its preserved works of art. Among the protected heritage is the São Francisco de Assis Church (considered a masterpiece). Also noteworthy are the churches of Nossa Sra. do Pilar, Conceição and Carmo, the scenery of its stone slopes, and the white houses with their clay tiles and colored window frames.


Manaus , Amazonas

Imagem do Teatro de Manaus uma construção em cores fortes e antigas

Most of the travelers who come to Manaus every year get there to know the exuberant fauna and flora of the Amazon Forest. However, the capital of Amazonas is much more than a gateway to discover the forest.


Manaus was founded in the 17th century to demonstrate Portuguese dominance in the Amazon region, considered a strategic position in Brazilian territory. And it played an important role in the Brazilian economy between the 19th and 20th centuries, during the Rubber Cycle. At this period, the city was known as the “Paris of the tropics”, thanks to the luxury of its European-inspired architecture, attracting foreign investment and immigrants from all over the world.


The greatest symbol of the opulence of that period is, without a doubt, the Teatro Amazonas, open in 1896 and still active. Built in Renaissance style, with a project chosen by the Portuguese Institute of Engineering and Architecture in Lisbon, the building was designed so that the capital of Amazonas could have an opera house that was worthy of the power of the elite at the time.


Other valuable historical attractions in the city are the Church of São Sebastião, which combines Gothic and Neoclassical styles; the Adolpho Lisboa Municipal Market, inaugurated in 1883; and the Rio Negro Palace, which belonged to one of the richest rubber barons in Manaus.



Our Brazilian incentive travel experts can provide meaningful and educative trips for your teams to dive in Brazilian culture. Let us know more about your expectations and necessities and let´s build together and unforgettable historic tour in Brazil. Access www.gotogetherdmc.com.br and start planning right now.