Areia is home to the first mills in Paraíba and has a lot of history

PB sand
PB sand

Nicknamed the “Princess of the Brejo”, Areia is proud of rarely exceeding 25 degrees in a Paraíba in the middle of a dry season. In winter, thermometers easily drop below 10 degrees. 

In the Paraíba city of Areia, this experience is accompanied by visits to mills, trips to museums and the opportunity to immerse yourself in an authentic gastronomic expedition; between rural roadside restaurants and other more sophisticated ones.

The central area of ​​the municipality preserves cobblestone streets and colorful houses.

The historic and urban complex is listed by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute. The essence of the 18th and 19th centuries gives charm to the mansions, where it is customary for residents to leave a vase of flowers leaning against the window.

To reach the city, only 130km away from João Pessoa, you have to climb Serra da Borborema.

If in the summer the breeze helps to face the high temperatures, in the winter, who defends himself with pants, boots and a coat; are the visitors.

Tourist Map of Paraíba
Tourist Map of Paraíba

The mountain range is in the Paraíba swamp. Here is the explanation for such mountainous temperatures. The coldest winter in the region recorded 12°C.

Marsh, in this case, does not concern swampy areas. The name of the region comes from “brejos de altitude”, as the high areas of the Northeast where a more humid climate prevails are known.

Map of the cities of Brejo Paraíbano
Map of the cities of Brejo Paraíbano

'Caminhos do Frio' takes place in six mountain towns in Brejo Paraíba, which are Areia, Bananeiras, Serraria, Pilões, Alagoa Nova and Alagoa Grande.

In 1625, Areia was known as Sertão dos Bruxaxás, in an allusion to the Bruxaxá tribe.

Later, this village was elevated to the status of village, with the name of Villa Real do Brejo de Areia.

Areia was the first city in Brazil to free slaves ten days before the legalization of the golden law, on May 3, 1888.

The municipality is at an altitude of over 600 meters and has a pleasant climate all year round, being one of the coldest in Paraíba.

In winter, the temperature reaches 12ºC. The city has a peculiar architectural complex, both urban and rural, made up of churches, museums, public buildings, farms and mills that manufacture brown sugar, brown sugar and the famous cachaça.

sand in Paraíba
sand in Paraíba

sugar kingdom

“Sugar has sweetened so many aspects of Brazilian life that national civilization cannot be separated from it.” In few places in the Brazilian Northeast, the sentence of Pernambuco sociologist Gilberto Freyre makes as much sense as in Brejo Paraíba.

In Areia alone, more than 100 mills were in operation between the mid-19th century and the end of the 1960s. Today, the few more than 20 that have survived maintain the tradition.

Areia is home to the first mills in Paraíba that used steam machines, such as Engenho Vaca Brava, opened in 1860 and considered the oldest in the region.

Aurélio Leal, its owner, specializes in telling stories from the time when farms were equipped with slave quarters and slaves ground sugarcane. Even today, the cachaça produced at Vaca Brava is stored in umburana and jequitibá barrels.

Tourist points of the city of Areia PB

Areia has a strong culture that comes from children who left a memorable legacy in the history of the city and the country. The city is remembered as the land of the painter Pedro Américo, the writer José Américo de Almeida and Father Azevedo, inventor of the typewriter and many other illustrious children.

Known as “Land of Culture”, it hosts the first theater built in the state of Paraíba, Teatro Minerva, built in the mid-XNUMXth century. XIX and other historic buildings that make the regional culture emblematic.

1. Engenho da Cachaça Triunfo

Engenho Triunfo is an important historical monument in Paraíba and a walk through the history of sugarcane.

The mill, which was built in 1850, has several historic buildings, such as the main house, the chapel and the slave quarters. In addition, the mill offers guided tours and tastings of cachaça, one of the main products manufactured on site.

Cachaça Triunfo started in 1994, from the dreams of Antônio Augusto. Despite the fact that he is not the son of any mill owner nor does he have the knowledge to make cachaça.

Engenho da Cachaça Triunfo in Areias PB
Engenho da Cachaça Triunfo in Areias PB

He sold the farm and bought a small mill and an alembic, those were the first steps. He bet on dreams, faced challenges, learned about cachaça and today, Triunfo sells over 250 bottles per month and also exports. There are 69 direct jobs and more than 1000 indirect ones.

During the visit, the tourist gets to know the entire production process of Triunfo cachaça, tasting sugarcane juice, juices, cachaça ice cream and visiting the brand's product store. The site even has a lake with pedal boats for walks with children.

Address: Sítio Macaíba, S/N, Rural Area of ​​Areia

2. Engenho Várzea do Coaty

It exists since 2008 and is located in the rural area of ​​Areia, district of Santa Maria. A space with history and regionality.

Casa Grande is from 1920 with English architecture and one of the first houses built with cement. Another peculiar feature is that the tourist equipment still has the caritó room, dedicated to virgin girls who did not marry when they were young and which gave rise to the expression “it stayed for the caritó”, with its origins in the XNUMXth century.

Casa Grande's tiled floor is original, as are the wide walls, characteristic of buildings of the time. The visit is accompanied by a guide who tells the stories involving the family and the attraction.

Várzea do Coaty also houses a regional restaurant that offers forró pé-de-serra and different dishes, such as: Gratinado ao Sol da Várzea (sun-dried meat, white cream and banana grilled in the oven) developed for the Saberes e Sabores project.

Desserts are also natural with homemade sweets made from seasonal fruits and milk, produced from the property's animals. The food consumed in the restaurant also comes from families in the region who work in family farming.

Address: District of Santa Maria, rural area of ​​Areia

3. Casa Pedro Américo

The museum has existed since 1943. In it, visitors can view the unique original work “Cristo Morto” from 1901 and the replicas of the painter and writer from Areia Pedro Américo: “The scream of Ipiranga” (the original work is at the Ipiranga museum in São Paulo ) and the “Batalha do Hawaii” (which portrays the war in Paraguay, the original work is in the Museum of Fine Arts, in Rio de Janeiro).

Casa Pedro Américo in Areias PB
Casa Pedro Américo in Areias PB

The Museum also houses original sketches made by the artist when he was still a child and teenager, as well as photos of Pedro Américo and his family. The Museum is among the busiest attractions in Areia due to the historical weight it represents.

The place was the place where the writer was born, in 1843 and was founded in celebration of his centenary, in 1943.

Pedro Américo followed the trends of Romanticism in Brazil, a period in which artists sought to value nationalism, portraying important historical facts contributing to the formation of a national identity.

Opening hours: from 8 am to 18 pm – every day with half and full visitation fee.

Address: Rua Pedro Américo, 66

4. Praça Ministro José Américo de Almeida

School and Praça Ministro José Américo de Almeida in Areias PB
School and Praça Ministro José Américo de Almeida in Areias PB

Square built in 1980 in honor of the writer, politician and minister José Américo de Almeida, author of works such as: A bagaceira and responsible for bringing to Paraíba the First Institution of Higher Education in the state.

5. José Rufino de Almeida mansion

Built in 1818 by the Portuguese Francisco Jorge Torres, entering the mansion is like traveling back in time.

The building was the first townhouse built in Vila Real de Areia and is recognized as the only urban slave quarters in Paraíba.

The building preserves the original structure of the walls and architecture, and even with the restoration, with replicas of the floor and some other spaces such as balconies, the mansion does not lose its charm. 

On the ground floor, there was a trade in various products, from silk to roll tobacco. On the first floor, the Portuguese family lived and in the back area of ​​the house, there is a slave quarters with 12 cubicles measuring 2m40 x 2m40 each, which housed between 8 and 12 black men and women.

In the center of it, the pillory was installed, where blacks were penalized with torture to serve as an example to others. From the mansion it is possible to see, below the roof, the formation of threshing floors, borders and trellises.

This architecture represented to society the economic level of the family, the more threshing floors the family had, the richer it would be, hence the expression “so-and-so has no threshing floor and no edge”.

Currently, the Casarão is the biggest point of visitation in the historical art of Areia.

The space pays tribute to the men and women who contributed to the economic, political, religious, social and cultural development of Paraíba.

The cubicles (6 units on the ground floor and another 6 on the 1st floor) today serve as libraries that house books that address the history of Paraíba and Brazil. Areia was the first city in Brazil to free slaves ten days before the legalization of the golden law, on May 3, 1888.

Address: Praça Pedro Américo and Praça João Pessoa

Minerva Theater in Areias PB
Minerva Theater in Areias PB

Built by slave hands and with an architecture that reflects the region's golden age, the Teatro Minerva is a must-see on a tour of the city's historic monuments. Inaugurated in 1859, entirely in Baroque style, the building draws attention due to the richness of the wooden details, which make it an architectural relic.

Minerva Theater in Areia PB built in 1859, in baroque style
Minerva Theater in Areia PB built in 1859, in baroque style

It is impossible not to be enchanted by the atmosphere that permeates the building and promotes a return to the time when large European companies performed on its stage to the satisfaction of the planters. 

7. Mother Church of Our Lady of Conception

Mother Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição in Areias PB
Mother Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição in Areias PB

 Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, built with just one central tower, it is possible to go back a little further in time and witness the original focus of the city that grew along with the exploitation of sugar cane.

In the place where the cathedral is located, there was originally only a straw mansion that, after successive renovations, became a valuable representation of the colonial quality that makes Brejo a laboratory for students and architecture lovers. 

The ceiling of the Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Areia PB
The ceiling of the Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Areia PB

If you like baroque art, you can't miss visiting the Igreja Matriz Our Lady of Conception de Areia, in Paraíba, next to Bananeiras.

Its ceiling is entirely painted, a true and legitimate reference to baroque art from Paraíba in the XNUMXth century. In addition to sacred images and ancient tiled floors, which complement the atmosphere of art and culture.

8. Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos Church

Church of the Rosary in Areia PB
Church of the Rosary in Areia PB

Just as important as the main church is Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos Church, one of the oldest in the state, built by slaves and revealing its own style. From its windows, a Sand of well-ornamented squares and streets of rough stone can be seen.

Although there is no concrete data, it is known that the Church of the Rosary is one of the oldest in Paraíba.

Its construction began in the middle of the 18th century (19th), and was completed only in the 1886th century (1886th), in XNUMX, with the arrival of an amount of four contos de réis granted by the Government of the Province of Paraíba. Still in XNUMX, the first religious feast was celebrated at the Igreja do Rosário.

In 1873, Fr. Antônio José Borges, authorized by Vicar Odilon Benvindo, installed the Brotherhood that exists until today.

In 1952, the Irmandade do Rosário had its activities paralyzed, having been restarted in 1989.

Slaves were responsible for the labor used in the construction and history of Areia.

9. Art Space

Espaço da Arte is where an association brings together pieces by 10 artisans from the city of Areia who work with different materials, such as: fabric, ceramics, wood, yarn (crochet and knitting) and offer well-crafted pieces such as kitchen sets, paintings on canvas, in addition to cachaça, brown sugar, honey and liqueurs produced in Areia.

Address: Rua Pedro Américo, S/N

History – Areia PB

In the process of populating the interior of Paraíba, Areia originated from a strategic point of stop and shelter for the drovers who came from the hinterland towards the coast to sell their products.

From the end of the XNUMXth century and the beginning of the XNUMXth century, the settlement initially called Sertão do Buxaxá (“land where the cicada sings”) emerged. Buxaxás were the Indians who originally inhabited the region.

Around that time, in the place where the city stands today, a Portuguese man built a hostel on the sidelines of the roads very frequented by travelers and tropeiros who, coming from the upper sertão of Paraíba or Pernambuco, went to other villages in the region.

The settler, for the friendship he made with the natives, received the nickname of Buxaxá. The movement around the place attracted inhabitants, forming there, in a short time, a prosperous village, which came to be called Brejo de Areia, due to the nearby stream called Areia.

District created with the name of Brejo d`Areia, in 1813, subordinate to Vila de Monte-Mor. The municipality emerged from Vila de Monte-Mor (current Mamanguape), in 1815, and the village was elevated to the category of village, in 1815.

In 1846, it became a city and municipal seat with the name of Areia, which is also remembered for the participation of its inhabitants in important political movements of the XNUMXth century.

The population joined the liberation movement of Pernambuco and participated in the Confederation of Ecuador (1817) and Praieira Revolution (1848). During the Confederation, the troops of Sergeant-Major Félix Antônio Ferreira de Albuquerque left Areia (which was the temporary seat of the Province), fighting the legal forces.

These men joined the remnants of the battalions of Pais de Carvalho and marched to Ceará, where they were annihilated. In February 1849, the last combat of the Praieira Revolution took place in Areia.

The rebels, after the unsuccessful attack on Recife, invaded Paraíba and took refuge in Areia, where they received help from the municipal judge Maximiano Lopes Machado and Colonel Joaquim dos Santos Leal.

They entrenched themselves in the city and sustained six hours of combat, which ended in flight and dispersion through the interior.

In the city, the abolitionist campaign was one of the most intense, with emphasis on Mocidade Emancipadora Areiense, headed by Manuel da Silva. The Areians freed the last slave on May 3, 1888, ten days before the proclamation of the Lei Áurea.  

Areias PB and Northeast Tourism Guide

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