In Brazil, Ilhéus (literally meaning "islanders") is synonymous with cocoa and Jorge Amado, one of Brazil’s best-known 20th-century writers. Amado spent his childhood here, and the house he lived in is now a cultural center. Many of his world-famous novels are set in places in and around Ilhéus and bring to life the golden age of the region, when cocoa production was so prosperous that it was nicknamed "black gold." Catedral de São Sebastião (San Sebastian Cathedral) is the heart of the central area—a plaza surrounded by colonial-period buildings akin to those in Pelourinho.


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