One of the ways adopted by the Tourism Secretariat of Pernambuco to leverage tourism in the State is the creation of Routes, paths that tourists can take, connecting cities and places with common characteristics.
The newest of these routes (which already number twelve) is the Rota dos Engenhos e Maracatus in Pernambuco, which proposes to take visitors on a tour of the rural region of Zona da Mata, North of the state, a region taken by, guess what: sugar mills and maracatus; the route covers the municipalities of Paudalho, Carpina, Tracunhaém, Nazaré da Mata, Vicencia, Lagoa do Carro and Itambé.
Travel along the Rota dos Engenhos and maracatus in the Zona da Mata of Pernambuco is to return to the origins of the State and encounter the charm of tradition.
In the old plantations, the main house and the slave quarters, they now house charming inns. Chapels, centuries-old churches, horseback riding, running water baths. Among sacred pieces and antique furniture, the delight of country life.
As you know, the sugar is a protagonist of the history of Pernambuco; and the labor that moved the mills was black; and one of the main cultural manifestations of black people in Pernambuco was the maracatu, an event in which the kings of the community were crowned.
It is not surprising, therefore, that engenhos and maracatus are so intertwined; and it is not surprising either that they have become forming elements of an important tourist itinerary in Pernambuco.
Although sugar cultivation has spread along the entire coast of the State, it was in the cities of Zona da Mata Norte (the stretch close to the coast between the capital Recife and the border with Paraíba) that maracatu groups have become more popular, so it is in this region that the Rota dos Engenhos and Maracatus are traveled.
A sign at the entrance to the city informs that, vice, 90 km from Recife, declares itself “the land of sugar mills”.
After a dirt road, through sugarcane plantations, you arrive at Engenho Jundiá; in it, the heir to the property, João Antônio Correia de Oliveira Andrade, insists on taking visitors on a tour that is well worth a history lesson, told by those who lived it: he witnessed the mill crushing the sugar cane until his 18th birthday, when the mill closed its activities.
With the support of his wife, João seeks to preserve the entire property as a whole, but says it is neither easy nor cheap; it is a matter of revering the family's memory and clinging to its past.
Rural Maracatu is a cultural manifestation of Pernambuco folk music in which the famous caboclos de lance appear.
It is also known as Maracatu de Baque Solto. It is distinguished from Maracatu Nação or Maracatu de Baque Virado, in organization, characters and rhythm.
Maracatu Rural means something more than just a game to its members: it is a secular heritage, a source of great pride and admiration.
It is formed by simple people, mainly rural workers who, with the same hands that cut cane, till the earth and carry weight, also embroider caboclo collars, cut costumes, decorate guides, chopsticks and hats; dedicating themselves to the most valuable asset they have: culture.
Right at the entrance to the main house, two relics are framed and hang on the wall: they are indulgences granted by Capuchin friars in the early 20th century. The living room furniture, made in 19, remains from the 1888th century. , there are pictures that depict the heir's family tree.
In the mill, where sugarcane was milled, there is a mini-museum with objects used at the time. All this can be visited, being necessary to arrange in advance.
Still in Vicência, it is worth going to Engenho Poço Comprido, listed as an architectural museum by the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional for almost fifty years – and recently nominated for one of the 7 wonders of Pernambuco.
The plantation is now owned by a local mill (Usina Laranjeiras), and is managed by the Association of Sons and Friends of Vicência (Afav).
There, in a cultural center, the community makes bags, sandals and wallets made from banana straw; they also produce necklaces with seeds collected in the forest. Visiting costs R$4, and prior appointment is also required.
It was in Poço Comprido where Frei Caneca enlisted some followers for the uprising of the Confederation of Ecuador. The main house resembles a chalet and is connected to the chapel (it is the only remaining mill that conserves this junction); the house has a construction style called Nortenha, characteristic of northern Portugal, which combines wood with masonry.
The chapel, on the other hand, has baroque-style images and a pulpit similar to that of some old churches in Recife and Olinda; there is also a cemetery where family members were buried.
This complex was restored in 2002 and houses a museum about ingenuity, ideal for educational tourism.
In Nazaré da Mata, the Engenho Santa Fé, built in 1942, became a mill inn.
The tourist can stay in the main house or in lodgings; and the place has everything that is common to see in rural tourism (regional breakfast, horseback riding, etc). Daily rates between R$ 60 and R$ 80 (Saturday to Sunday), with breakfast included and separate meals at the restaurant.
Eight kilometers from Nazaré, Engenho Cueirinha is an even more rural option. Owner Nara Maranhão insists on receiving visitors and integrating them into the field's routine; it offers horse and carriage rides, forest trails, bathing at the tap, fishing in a pond, milking cows.
The manor house dates back to 1933, with a large balcony, antique furniture and an award signed by Dom Pedro II.
The guest can stay in one of the rooms of the house or in one of the chalets located in the middle of a mountain.
Accommodation costs R$ 130, per person, with full board, including a table with various sweets, at the visitor's discretion.
Coming to Nazaré, you cannot miss the maracatu; Nazaré da Mata is the land of maracatu de baque solto, or rural maracatu. At the entrance to the city, sculptures of caboclos can be seen, representing the 20 groups of maracatus existing in Nazaré, which also houses the Mauro Mota Cultural Center, with exhibitions and products from the maracatu groups.
Five kilometers from Nazaré da Mata is Engenho Cumbe, home of Maracatu Cambinda Brasileira.
Founded in 1918, Cambinda is 91 years old and is the oldest in Pernambuco; currently, it has 180 members and, through resources from the Pernambuco Historical and Artistic Heritage Foundation (Fundarpe), has given maracatu collar embroidery workshops in the community itself.
Engenho Jundiá: (81) 9982-6111
Long Well Mill: (81) 9916-9612
Ingenio Santa Fe: (81) 3633-1254
Engenho Cueirinha: (81) 9948-1586
Tourism and travel guide on Pernambuco Sugar Mills in the north forest zone
Engenhos and Maracatus Route in Pernambuco