Lençóis isn’t only famous for being the main gateway to the Chapada Diamantina. Historically known as the Capital do Diamante (Diamond Capital), Lençóis has a full history, which is full of wealth and tradition. According to historians, Lençóis Bahia was discovered in the 19th century by a diamond hunting expedition in the region of Mucugê. The name of the town comes from the elevated rock surfaces between which the rivers run, which, from above look like embroidered sheets.
For a century the main riches of the region was gold, and it was in this period that the ‘Estrada Real’ was built – a road which made easy transportation from the north to the south of the region. As the gold reserves dwindled, so began the search for diamonds and the surge of mines around Lençóis. The diamond exploitation ended around 1870, when the period known as the “Era dos Coronéis” or the “Colonels Era” began. The main person in the region of Lençóis in this period was the Colonel Horácio de Mattos.
In the mid 20th century, Lençóis suffered a huge economic crisis due to the huge demand for diamonds which caused a huge depletion of the precious stone. The activities of the miners finally came to an end in 1994 and partly from this came a new income source for the region of the Chapada Diamantina: tourism. The national park – Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina was created and in 1973 the town of Lençóis was listed by IPHAN (Instituto do Patrimônio Artístico Nacional) as a National Heritage area. Nowadays the main commerce in the Chapada Diamantina is tourism.