The Inside Word… on Pirenópolis, Brazil

  • WHL Group
  • 27 July 2010

With so many destinations in the WHL Group’s ever-expanding network, we have an incredible wealth of local travel information at our fingertips. Through the Inside Word, our local partners – all travel experts – share their top tips on what to do, what to eat, where to party and where to shop in their necks of the woods.

Horsemen in Pirenopolis, Brazil, wearing medieval costumes representing Moors and Christians

The traditional celebration of Festa do Divino Espírito Santo (Divine Spirit Festival) is famous worldwide. It occurs 45 days after Easter and attracts thousands of visitors keen to celebrate the medieval victory of Iberian Christian knights over the Moors. The Cavalhadas, one part of the festival, is a grand recreation of a battle fought by Charlemagne. Horsemen in medieval costumes representing Moors and Christians put on a great three-day show.

Pirenópolis, Brazil

Established in 1727, Pirenópolis is considered the heart of Goiás state and culture in Brazil. It has retained its wonderful colonial architecture, which gives the city an irresistible charm and has led to the IPHAN (Ministry of Culture) designating it a National Artistic Historic site.

Its churches, houses, farms, streets and alleys all present a rich cultural history, where the old and the new coexist harmoniously. Traditional festivities such as the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo (Divine Spirit Festival) and Cavalhadas (see photo) are recognised internationally for their authenticity and beauty and are definitely worth checking out! There are also plenty of events that are well known on the cultural circuit, such as the Gastronomic Festival, Photography Festival and Jazz Festival, each of which attract hundreds of visitors.

Day Trip

Nature tours are some of the best excursions in Pirenópolis. The main attractions are the incredible waterfalls and the opportunities to see the beautiful surrounding countryside of Brazil’s interior.

Visitors of all ages can enjoy some more adventurous pursuits: trekking, mountain biking, rafting, canoeing, rappelling/abseiling, paragliding and horseback riding to name but a few! The Almas River is perfect for rafting and the magnificent forests offer visitors the opportunity to take an exhilarating canopy tour.

Abade Falls are the highest and one of the most beautiful waterfalls of the Pireneus Mountain Range of central Brazil

Abade Falls are the highest and one of the most beautiful waterfalls of the Pireneus Mountain Range. Paved trails lead the way to the main cataract, which is 22 metres high and surrounded by a splendid white-sand beach. Other trails lead to beautiful natural swimming pools formed by the Rio das Almas. Adventure sports such as abseiling and canyoning are possible in the area.


Pirenópolis inspires its artists and local craftsmen and attracts skilled artisans. The result is a profusion of authentic handicrafts of superior quality. The city, especially the old town, is a great place to shop for, among other things, souvenirs of silver, ceramics, woven products, fabric, sustainable wood and plastic. There is a fabulous street market on Saturday, Sunday and the holidays, during which it’s possible to pick up some quality local handicrafts at knockdown prices.


The food of Pirenópolis is fantastic and you will find a mix of traditional Goiás treats and new trends in national and international cuisine presented by talented and innovative chefs.

Although meat and fish features heavily on the menu, vegetarian food is widely, as is delicious organic fare. The most famous traditional food is called empadão goiano. It is made with chicken, potatoes, salsiche (sausages) and a very tasty red sauce. Another Goiás speciality is the delectable pequi, a fruit whose juicy yellow flesh gives many chicken-and-rice dishes their distinct flavour. The fruit is harvested from December to April, but preserved and made into jams and chutneys so it can be enjoyed all year round.

You can find cheap eats at the many pamonharias lining the streets. These stalls sell pamonha, which are traditional corn cakes made with fresh grated corn mixed with meat, vegetables or cheese baked in corn husks.

Quality handicrafts can be purchased from shops in the Historical Center or directly from local artists.

Quality handicrafts can be purchased from shops in the Historical Center or directly from local artists. Other popular locations for buying souvenirs are the PIRETUR, where various ceramic, woven and braided products are made on site, and the Handicraft Fair (Feira do Artesanato) that showcases local craftsmen.

Local Treat

Six artists considered local masters for the quality of their handwork and products have organised something called the Creation Circuit (Circúito de Criação). Their names are Cláudia Azeredo, Cristina Galeão, Mercedes Roque Pereira, Rosane Régis and Vera Michels, and they work with natural materials and gain inspiration from the rich cultural traditions of the city. Visitors can take a tour of the Circúito de Criação, which takes in the artists’ studios. You can appreciate fine pottery in the adobe studio, fashionable fabrics and designs by Cláudia Azeredo, clothing and textile design in Tissume, handmade silver jewellery in RR Designer, decorations and drawings in Atelier Vera Michels and furniture made of sustainable wood in Pau de Lenho by Roque Pereira.

Night Out

On weekend evenings in Pirenópolis, sit back and watch everyone dressed to the nines and enjoying some great live music. The most popular spot is the Rua do Lazer (Leisure Street), where cars yield space to tables, chairs and people. Plenty of tourists and locals intermingle in a delightful cross-cultural mix. Visitors have a choice of inexpensive pizza outlets and sandwich shops, as well as classy dinners at top-notch restaurants with great ambience and live music.

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