Capital of Alagoas
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Maceió was founded in 1839, when it became the new capital of Alagoas. The city hosts almost one million inhabitants and is an emerging touristic location. Most tourists visit the urban beaches of Ponta Verde and Pajuçara, and the more distant beaches of Praia do Francês, Gunga, and Maragogi. Its location between lake Mundaú and the Atlantic Ocean gave Maceió the nicknames ‘Paraíso das Águas’ (Paradise of Waters) and ‘Caribe Brasileiro’ (Brazilian Caribbean).
Maceió is the capital of the state of Alagoas, the second smallest Brazilian state. As a state in the northeastern region, it shares borders with Pernambuco, Bahia, Sergipe. The eastern part is located at the Atlantic Ocean. The city of Maceió hosts a number of urban beaches.The average altitude is 7 m. According to estimates of the IBGE (2011), the city counts 943 thousand inhabitants. The Human Development Index is 0.739 (‘average’; PNUD 2000).
In 1609, a sugar mill was constructed at the location of Maceió. Soon, houses were constructed near the mill, marking the birth of the city of Maceió. In 1673, the king of Portugal ordered Viscount of Barbacena to construct a fortress at Porto de Jaraguá, in order to prevent illegal trade of pau-brazil, the precious Brazilian wood.
The name ‘Maceió’ is derived from the Tupi word ‘Maçayó’ or ‘Macaio-k’, which has the meaning of ‘what hits the wetlands’, referring to the numerous courses of water that flow out of the soil, into the sea.
The small settlement contained a small chapel that was dedicated to Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres. On the same location is constructed the Igreja Matriz. On December 5, 1815, the development of the settlement received a significant boost when the Port of Jaraguá – of importance for the export of sugar, tobacco, coconuts, and spices – was dismembered from Vila das Alagoas (now Marechal Deodoro). On that day, Dom João VI, still residing in Brazil, signed the document that realized the dismemberment.
In 1817, when the capitania of Alagoas was created – dismembered from Pernambuco – the new governor, Augustinho da Silva Neves, started the controversial process of transferring the capital from Vila das Alagoas to Maceió. Military expedition forces from neighboring capitanias of Bahia and Pernambuco had to arrive in Maceió, to maintain order. On December 16, 1839, the transfer of the capital was complete. Maceió started the political, administrative development, whereas a new phase of commerce was started, and industrialization took a start, too.
In 1844, guerrilla troops (cabanas) invaded the new capital. They had a number of demands for the president of the province of Alagoas, but he declined these demands. The invaders were ousted, but they returned two weeks later. The guerrilla’s then invaded the British consulate and took the vice consul as their hostage. Federal troops from Pernambuco defeated the guerrillas, and killed their leaders.
On February 1, 1912, neighborhoods of the Afro-Brazilian community were attacked. Religious objects of their cult were confiscated and burnt publicly. Their religious leaders were punished in public. It is unknown how many Afro-Brazilians were killed during this act of intolerance and racism. One century later, in 2012, the government of the State of Alagoas publicly apologized for this ‘Quebra de Xangô’.
For centuries, sugar cane is the principal agricultural activity in the state of Alagoas. However, the production contributes very little to the local economy. The region of Maceió is rich in rock salt. Therefore, a number of chemical industries is located in the city. Alagoas is one of the largest producers of natural gas in Brazil. Commercial activities and tourism are the principal economic activities in Maceió. The urban beaches and beaches in neighboring regions attract large numbers of Brazilian and foreign tourists, including tourists who arrive with cruise ships.
What to see
Maceió is a relatively young city, but its center hosts a number of historical buildings. Palácio Floriano Peixoto (1893), initially known as ‘Palácio dos Martírios (Martyrs)’, is the seat of the government of the state of Alagoas. The palace museum (MuPa) hosts a collection of furniture and crystals from the 19th and 20th century. At the other side of the Dom Pedro II Square is Igreja do Nosso Senhor Bom Jesus dos Martírios. The principal church is the Catedral Metropolitana (1840), also known as Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres. The altar is made from cedar wood, and is flanked by smaller altars for São Sebastião and São Miguel. The principal theater is Teatro Deodoro, which is hosted in a Neo-Classicist building.
Maceió hosts various interesting museums, of which Museu Théo Brandão is the most widely known. The museum hosts collections from Mexico, Spain, and Portugal. The Museu do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico hosts an elaborate Afro-Brazilian collection. Museu Pierre Chalita hosts a collection, which represents the era between 17th and 19th century. Museu da Imagen e do Som hosts the memory of Alagoas in photographs, videos and tapes. The historical district of Jaraguá hosts various interesting historical buildings, including the Neo-Classicist building of Associação Comercial. In Pajuçara, a monument, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, honors Teotônio Vilela, a local politician who had battled fiercely for his state, and against the dictatorship. Another monument, along Praia da Avenida, honors the first two presidents of Brazil: Deodoro da Fonseca and Floriano Peixoto. Inside the monument, an exhibition tells the history of the Brazilian symbols and mostrates portraits of all Brazilian presidents.
Handicraft (artesanato) is of big importance in Alagoas. Many Alagoans are gifted with talent to produce wonderful pieces of handicraft. In Maceió, there are several centers where artesanato may be bought. The most popular center is along Pajuçara Beach. Another center is located just outside the historical center. More distant, in Pontal da Barra, visitors may encounter many small stores that sell clothes and handicraft, which is composed of filé: a special technique of weaving colorful tissues.
Maceió hosts various urban beaches. Most popular is Pajuçara Beach, from where boat trips may be made to offshore reefs at low tide. Ponta Verde Beach is popular because of the night life. The beach is flanked by many bars, restaurants and hotels. Neighboring Jatiúca Beach is another popular urban beach. Outside Maceió, there are many beautiful beaches that are very popular among tourists.
Most widely known is Praia do Francês, with an excellent infrastructure, and with many bars and restaurants. Less popular, and quieter beaches are Ipioca, Paripueira, Sonho Verde, Gunga, and more distant, Coruripe. At about 130 km from the capital, one of the most popular Brazilian beaches may be visited: Maragogi, with possibilities to visit reefs at low tide.
|Maceió: sol, sal e saudades
||Maceió – Alagoas
|Museu Théo Brandão – Alagoas dia-a-dia
||Trailer Documentario Pierre Chalita
|Maceió – Pajuçara
||VT DOCUMENTÁRIO PONTAL DA BARRA MACEIÓ
|Maragogi – Hoje em Dia
||Praia do Francês
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom © 2009
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