6 minutes reading time Brazil
There is an island in the South of Brazil that is home to fantastic creatures. The city is magical and otherworldly species such as werewolves, boitatás, and witches live there. The island is Florianópolis, also known as Floripa.
At least, the locals say so.
These are stories from local folklore that have been popularized through the ages to the present day.
Whether they are true or not is still a mystery. But there is something magical about Florianópolis island, no doubt. Floripa, as it’s also called, it’s one of the most visited cities in Brazil. Even more than the cosmopolitan São Paulo or beautiful Salvador.
It may look like an episode of Dark Tourist from Netflix: Florianópolis, the haunted island. But it’s more like a blessed place than a cursed one.
The legends came from the first post-colonization residents of the island. Most of the stories are about women with evil powers (the witches), those with healing powers (the healers), flying creatures with fiery eyes (the boitatás), and ghosts from historical events.
All of these stories were popularized and recorded by Franklin Cascaes, a local artist descended from Portuguese immigrants. Around the middle of the past century, he used to go to the most isolated places on the island to hear these stories and discover more about it from the locals. Cascaes turned everything he heard into drawings, sculptures, and books, thus popularizing the folklore of the city of Florianópolis.
Due to Cascaes lifework, those stories are remembered till these days. So much so that in 2011, the samba school Grande Rio did a parade about Floripa folklore in Rio’s Carnival, with the title “Y-Jurerê Mirim: the charming Island of the Witches (a tale of Cascaes)”.
Some places in Floripa carry the symbolism of folklore and supernatural creatures. All of these stories may make it look like they are scary places, but they are worth seeing!
It’s located on a hill between two beaches, Brava Beach and Ingleses Beach. It’s possible to get there by a trail of almost two hours walking (More Difficult—Intermediate) and enjoy an incredible view of the sea. The exact origin of the name is unknown, but the spot was discovered by local fishermen who used and still use the site to watch the fishes approaching the beach. It’s believable that they come up with the name after a story about a witch or something related.
Florianópolis downtown is adorned with beautiful graffiti art on constructions and building walls. One of them is in honor of Franklin Cascaes, a drawing of his face on a building with engravings of witches and boitatás, inspired by the artist’s drawn style.
Located on Itaguaçu Beach, in the mainland area of Floripa, the legend about this place says that the Devil turned the witches who made parties at dawn into stones and that’s why there are dozens of stones in various formats at the edge of the sea. The view is so beautiful that tourists always take good photos there. The Witches Ball Room is near one of the best gastronomic routes in the city, the Gastronomic Route of Coqueiros.
Legend has it that the Tupi people predicted that terrible things would happen there when they named Anhatomirim Island, as “Anhatomirim” means “the little island of the devil” in the Tupi language. Years later, at the time of the Brazilian Federalist Revolution, almost 200 political prisoners were killed in Anhatomirim and locals started to say that the prisoners’ ghosts still haunt the island. Despite those rumors, nowadays the preserved fort and cannons attract many tourists who take the boat trip from Floripa to Anhatomirim.
Floripa is a small island with just around 600 thousand inhabitants but appears almost on top of the lists for most visited destinations in Brazil.
Florianópolis is mainly sought by Latin tourists, such as Argentines, Chileans, and Uruguayans. Easy access by car and direct flights to Hercílio Luz International Airport (Floripa Airport, FLN) make it easier for the hermanos to arrive on the island.
The neighborhoods Canasvieiras, Lagoa da Conceição, and Ingleses are the favorites of those who come to spend the summer months in Brazil (December and January), Carnival and Easter holiday as well. These three neighborhoods are very well located, only a few minutes if not seconds far from beaches but surrounded by the good structure of hotels and local commerce.
According to the data from the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism, Floripa was second only to Rio de Janeiro as the most visited city in Brazil in 2018. Rio is a huge competitor and represents Brazil around the world, so it’s a big thing for a small island.
Florianópolis has 42 beaches and is a good option for those looking for more tranquility and peace, as it’s the safest capital in Brazil and the one with the best quality of life.
But for those looking for a little more action, the city has good party options in the upscale Jurerê Internacional neighborhood with its fancy beach clubs or the Downtown area with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
There is a Castilian saying that Latin tourists like to say when they found out about the witches’ stories of Florianópolis: “Yo no creo en las brujas pero que las hay las hay” (I don’t believe in witches, but that they exist, they exist).
All these supernatural events are just stories told by locals since none of them have been proven, and today the title of Magic Island is attributed to the fantastic landscapes and natural beauty of Florianópolis. The city has unmissable scenarios that combine the modern system of a capital with the calm style of a paradisiacal island.
Florianópolis is the capital of Santa Catarina, one of the States in the South Region of Brazil.
P.S: One more important thing! When you arrive in Floripa, don’t forget to ask the witches for permission to enter the island. Just saying.
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