Zona da Mata of Pernambuco

The cities of the Zona da Mata in Pernambuco, such as Carpina, Nazaré da Mata, Tracunhaém and Vicência, were born around the large sugar cane mills and plants and have rural maracatu and history as their attraction.

To this day, it is still possible to experience Pernambuco’s historic past through visits to preserved mills in the interior of the state.

The Zona da Mata gave birth to this era that boosted Pernambuco’s economy between the 17th and 19th centuries and transformed the region into a great cultural granary uniting the traditions of African slaves, white colonisers and native Indians.

Some of the old sugar mills have been preserved, are open to visitors with guides available to tourists and others have been transformed into inns where visitors have the opportunity to get in touch with local history, nature, gastronomy and handicrafts.

Towns such as Vicência, Nazaré da Mata, Paudalho and Carpina offer beautiful landscapes and an impressive historical collection, as well as a variety of routes, as it is possible to rest, but also find routes for the more adventurous.

The town of Vicência, 75 kilometres from Recife, has natural beauty that beckons the most daring for a stroll. Waterfalls, mountains and forests are the perfect setting for those looking for adventure tourism as well as the town’s history.

But a trip to the region wouldn’t be complete if tourists didn’t get to know the process of making cachaça. Several producers open their doors to visitors. The town of Lagoa do Carro is home to the Cachaça Museum with a collection of 8,000 bottles from different parts of Brazil and the world.

A tradition that has been passed down from father to son for generations, Maracatu Rural (or Maracatu de Baque Solto) has its strongest presence in the town of Nazaré da Mata, known as the ‘Land of Maracatu’.

The city, which has numerous groups, is just 65 kilometres from Recife and is a great option for those who like to get to know cultural manifestations, because as well as Maracatu, it is rich in Seahorse and Coconut.

If you’re looking for something religious to do on your walks, you should certainly visit the town of Paudalho, located 44 kilometres from the capital of Pernambuco.

The town’s main attraction is the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Luz, which houses the image of São Severino and is considered miraculous, attracting thousands of pilgrims. And, of course, don’t forget to visit the town’s old sugar mills and the historic centre with its Portuguese mansions.

To get to know the Zona da Mata is to understand an era of fundamental importance for the state and for the cultural formation of a people.

All this can be seen in the presentations of cultural manifestations, it can be felt through the local gastronomy, it was in the sugar cane mills that Pernambuco’s fascination with sweets arose, and kept as a souvenir, the region is one of the richest in handicrafts and each city stands out for a typical production of its people.

Tourist highlights and attractions of the towns in the Zona da Mata of Pernambuco

1. Carpina

Carpina is located around 65 kilometres from Recife.


  • Jota Cândido Events Park: The venue for festivals and cultural events, such as the traditional St John’s Festival.
  • Matriz de São José Church: One of the city’s main churches, with historic architecture.
  • Dr Murilo Silva Events Square: A space for leisure and outdoor activities, with green areas and spaces for walking.

Events: Carpina is known for its June festivals, which attract visitors from all over the region with quadrilhas, bonfires and forró shows.

2. Nazaré da Mata

Around 65 kilometres north of Recife.


  • Maracatus Meeting: One of the most important cultural events, bringing together various rural maracatu groups.
  • Museu do Maracatu: Preserves the history and culture of rural maracatu, with exhibitions of costumes, instruments and documents.
  • Sugar Cane Mills: The region is rich in historic sugar mills, where you can learn about the production of sugar and cachaça.

Events: In addition to the Maracatus Encounter, the Nazaré da Mata Carnival is famous for its rural maracatu and caboclinhos parades.

3. Tracunhaém

Approximately 60 kilometres from Recife.


  • Ceramic Crafts: Tracunhaém is known for its artisans who produce ceramic pieces, from utilitarian to decorative sculptures.
  • Craft Fair: A great opportunity to buy unique pieces and get to know the work of local artisans.
  • Matriz de São Sebastião Church: A religious and historical landmark of the city.

Events: The town celebrates the Feast of St Sebastian, with processions, masses and cultural events that reflect local tradition.

4. Vicência

Approximately 85 kilometres from Recife.


  • Engenho Poço Comprido: One of the region’s historic sugar mills, offering guided tours to learn about sugar production and local history.
  • Engenho Poço Comprido: One of the region’s historic sugar mills, offering guided tours to learn about sugar production and local history.
  • Cachoeira do Urubu: A beautiful natural site, perfect for bathing and getting in touch with nature.
  • Matriz de Santa Ana Church: A historic church with beautiful architecture.

Events: Vicência celebrates June festivals and the Feast of St Anne, with religious and cultural celebrations that attract many visitors.


The cities in the Zona da Mata region of Pernambuco, such as Carpina, Nazaré da Mata, Tracunhaém and Vicência, offer a rich mix of history, culture and nature.

From vibrant cultural and religious celebrations to historic mills and natural beauty, there is plenty to see and do in this region.

Each town has its own charm and unique attractions, making the Zona da Mata a fascinating destination for tourists wishing to explore the richness of the Brazilian Northeast.