A walk along the ruins in Alcântara (II)
Destination São Luís, capital of the state of Maranhão.
Pelourinho and Igreja Matriz at Praça de Matriz
On a Sunday morning, a catamaran carried us to the other side of Baía de São Marcos, a distance of more than fifty km. On the peninsula is the historical city of Santo Antônio de Alcântara, a large open air museum.
Alcântara is a peninsula northwest of São Luís Island, divided by Baia de São Marcos.
We kept following Ladeira do Jacaré, the main road. We arrived at a large, grass-covered square, with an impressive ruin. There was a white pillar next to it. The ruin once was a church, which was constructed in the 17th century. Prior to this construction, there was a chapel, constructed before 1648, by the Indian Maretin, dedicated to São Bartolomeu. The church, however, was dedicated to São Matias. Already in the 19th century, the church became dilapidated, and thanks to a locally famous writer, one of the towers was demolished. Why? Writer Sousândrade lived in one of the biggest houses at the square and complained that the tower was blocking his view…
The white pillar is not just a white pillar, but is called a pelourinho. The peaceful white is in sharp contrast with the cruel and bloody past that is linked to this pillar. At the time of slavery, the pelourinho was used as a castigation pillar, where the rebellious slave was tied to it with hands and feet, and some times was kept there for days, even weeks. Under tropical weather conditions. Such a pelourinho was located on a visible place at a fazenda, or in the city centers. A public castigation and thus humiliation of slaves served as a deterrent to other slaves.
The plaque says that the pelourinho was erected on 22 December 1648 in Vila de Santo Antônio d´Alcântara, and that the pillar was added to the List of Brazilian Monuments by the IPHAN (Institution responsible for the administration of Brazilian monuments) 1948.
By. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
- Travel in Brazil: MARANHÃO (35). Alcântara, an Open Air Museum – I (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)