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Florianopolis was founded in 1726 by immigrants from the Azores, along with German and Italian settlers. Located on Santa Catarina Island, which is joined to the mainland by three bridges, the late 19th century pastel-colored, plastered buildings still recall faint "old world" images. The natural beauty of the island, its beaches and bays make Florianopolis a popular tourist centre. Most visitors head straight for the island's 42 beaches, with the best ones found on the north and west coast along with fashionable resorts and some of the best hotel facilities in the country. From here you can also take a flight to see the dramatic Iguacu Falls.
Florianopolis was named after Floriano Peixoto, former Brazilian President who defeated insurrection in the city in 1849. Among the city's historic buildings are three fortresses, the Jesuit Monastery and the 200-year-old Palacio Cruz e Souza, which houses the Historic Museum of Santa Catarina. The metropolitan cathedral stands at the highest point and overlooks the main square. The church features a life-size sculpture in wood of the flight into Egypt, originally from the Austrian Tyrol. Other attractions in the city include the Municipal Market and former Customs House, now converted to contain good craft stalls, art galleries and handicraft shops.
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