Maranhão » Hotels, Travel and Tourism

São Luís: Lions´ Palace
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The state of Maranhão has an area of 332 thousand square kilometers (slightly more than Italy), and its first European occupants were Spanish, which arrive in 1500, the year of the discovery of Brazil; 35 years later, the Portuguese disputed this occupation, but without success, and in 1612 the French settled, founding Equinoxial France.

The state capital is São Luís, and other major cities are Empress, Caxias, Timon, Codó, Santa Inês, Bacabal, Balsas, Chapadinha and Barra do Corda.

Maranhão has the greatest diversity of ecosystems in Brazil, including 640 km of tropical beaches, rainforest, savannah, mangrove, a delta in the open sea and the only desert in the world with thousands of crystal clear lagoons.

All this diversity is organized into five tourism centers, each with its natural attractions, cultural and architectural: São Luís, the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, the Chapada das Mesas National Park, the delta of the Parnaíba River and the Forest of Guarás.

With low altitudes and a regular topography, Maranhão has a low relief, with about 90 percent of the surface below 300 meters and two distinct regions: the coastal plain and the tabular plateau.

The first, to the north, consists of lowland plains marked by extensive beaches, tablelands and lowlands, floodplains, highlighting in particular the vast expanses of dunes and the bays of São Marcos and São José.

This region has one of three island-capitals of Brazil: the island of São Luis, comprising the cities of São Luís, Raposa, São José de Ribamar and Paço do Lumiar.

In the state's northeast, one can find an interesting geologic formation of sand dunes and freshwater ponds in an area of ​​155 hectares, the Lençóis Maranhenses (Maranhão sheets), also known as «Brazilian desert».

In the center south, the predominant relief is made of plateaus and mesas, with the formation of mountains, in the area of ​​the Brazilian Central Plateau.

The Chapada das Mesas National Park, a paradise of 160 hectares of savannah in the southwest of the state, keeps innumerable surprises, like bathing in waterfalls, nature trails in caves and gorges, archeological sites with inscriptions, snorkeling in crystal clear waters and other beautiful landscapes; the main cities in the area are Imperatriz, Carolina and Riachão, surrounded by a world of magic and grandeur.

The delta of the Parnaíba River is the third largest ocean delta in the world, a rare natural phenomenon that occurs also in the Nile in Africa and the Mekong in Vietnam; rivers, flora, fauna, white sand dunes, swimming in ponds and sea are some of the tourist attractions; Tutóia, Paulino Neves and Araioses are the major cities.

The Forest of Guarás is located on the Amazon part of Maranhão, in the west coast, and involves the cities of Cedral, Mirinzal, Cururupu, Guimarães and Porto Rico do Maranhão, among others; it has many natural and cultural attractions, emerging as an ecological sanctuary formed by bays and estuaries where the rivers flow amid mangroves; its biggest tourist attractions include the island of Lençóis, in Cururupu, the beaches of Caçacueira, São Lucas and Mangunça, the coral reef of Manuel Luis (only accessible to divers), the yards where masters still build entirely by hand the typical vessels of Maranhão and an abundance of birds such as ibises (guarás), herons, spoonbills and ducks.

The capital of Maranhão, São Luís, declared World Heritage by UNESCO, has most of the historic values of the state: With more than 3500 buildings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the city is a reference for the Brazil of the Portuguese aristocracy, whose memory can still be seen on the facades of the historic center; one hour away, by boat, Alcântara is another landmark historic and architectural state.

With regard to religious tourism, Maranhão has three major events: one in June, in São Luís, with parties in honor of Saint Anthony, Saint John, Saint Peter and Saint Marçal; in Alcântara, the second Sunday of August sees the feast of Saint Benedict, and in May, the feast of the Divine, the most popular secular-religious event of the state.

Municipalities: Açailândia, Afonso Cunha, Água Doce do Maranhão, Alcântara, Aldeias Altas, Altamira do Maranhão, Alto Alegre do Maranhão, Alto Alegre do Pindaré, Alto Parnaíba, Amapá do Maranhão, Amarante do Maranhão, Anajatuba, Anapurus, Apicum-Açu, Araguanã, Araioses, Arame, Arari, Axixá, Bacabal, Bacabeira, Bacuri, Bacurituba, Balsas, Barão de Grajaú, Barra do Corda, Barreirinhas, Bela Vista do Maranhão, Belágua, Benedito Leite, Bequimão, Bernardo do Mearim, Boa Vista do Gurupi, Bom Jardim, Bom Jesus das Selvas, Bom Lugar, Brejo, Brejo de Areia, Buriti, Buriti Bravo, Buriticupu, Buritirana, Cachoeira Grande, Cajapió, Cajari, Campestre do Maranhão, Cândido Mendes, Cantanhede, Capinzal do Norte, Carolina, Carutapera, Caxias, Cedral, Central do Maranhão, Centro do Guilherme, Centro Novo do Maranhão, Chapadinha, Cidelândia, Codó, Coelho Neto , Colinas, Conceição do Lago Açu, Coroatá, Cururupu, Davinópolis, Dom Pedro, Duque Bacelar, Esperantinópolis, Estreito, Feira Nova do Maranhão, Fernando Falcão, Formosa da Serra Negra, Fortaleza dos Nogueiras, Fortuna, Godofredo Viana, Gonçalves Dias, Governador Archer, Governador Edison Lobão, Governador Eugênio Barros, Governador Luiz Rocha, Governador Newton Bello, Governador Nunes Freire, Graça Aranha, Grajaú, Guimarães, Humberto de Campos, Icatu, Igarapé do Meio, Igarapé Grande, Imperatriz, Itaipava do Grajaú, Itapecuru-Mirim, Itinga do Maranhão, Jatobá, Jenipapo dos Vieiras, João Lisboa, Joselândia, Junco do Maranhão, Lago da Pedra, Lago do Junco, Lago dos Rodrigues, Lago Verde, Lagoa do Mato, Lagoa Grande do Maranhão, Lajeado Novo, Lima Campos, Loreto, Luís Domingues, Magalhães de Almeida, Maracaçumé, Marajá do Sena, Maranhãozinho, Mata Roma, Matinha, Matões, Matões do Norte, Milagres do Maranhão, Mirador, Miranda do Norte, Mirinzal, Monção, Montes Altos, Morros, Nina Rodrigues, Nova Colinas, Nova Iorque, Nova Olinda do Maranhão, Olho d´Água das Cunhãs, Olinda Nova do Maranhão, Paço do Lumiar, Palmeirândia, Paraibano, Parnarama, Passagem Franca, Pastos Bons, Paulino Neves, Paulo Ramos, Pedreiras, Pedro do Rosário, Penalva, Peri Mirim, Peritoró, Pindaré-Mirim, Pinheiro, Pio XII, Pirapemas, Poção de Pedras, Porto Franco, Porto Rico do Maranhão, Presidente Dutra, Presidente Juscelino, Presidente Médici, Presidente Sarney, Presidente Vargas, Primeira Cruz, Raposa, Riachão , Ribamar Fiquene, Rosário , Sambaíba, Santa Filomena do Maranhão, Santa Helena, Santa Inês, Santa Luzia, Santa Luzia do Paruá, Santa Quitéria do Maranhão, Santa Rita, Santana do Maranhão, Santo Amaro do Maranhão, Santo Antônio dos Lopes, São Benedito do Rio Preto, São Bento, São Bernardo , São Domingos do Azeitão, São Domingos do Maranhão, São Félix de Balsas, São Francisco do Brejão, São Francisco do Maranhão, São João Batista, São João do Carú, São João do Paraíso , São João do Soter, São João dos Patos, São José de Ribamar, São José dos Basílios, São Luís, São Luís Gonzaga do Maranhão, São Mateus do Maranhão, São Pedro da Água Branca, São Pedro dos Crentes, São Raimundo das Mangabeiras, São Raimundo do Doca Bezerra, São Roberto, São Vicente Ferrer, Satubinha, Senador Alexandre Costa, Senador La Rocque, Serrano do Maranhão, Sítio Novo , Sucupira do Norte, Sucupira do Riachão, Tasso Fragoso, Timbiras, Timon, Trizidela do Vale, Tufilândia, Tuntum, Turiaçu, Turilândia, Tutóia, Urbano Santos, Vargem Grande, Viana , Vila Nova dos Martírios, Vitória do Mearim, Vitorino Freire and Zé Doca.
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