Sugar mills around Porto de Galinhas in Pernambuco

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Engenho Gaipió em Ipojuca
Engenho Gaipió em Ipojuca

The sugar mills in the vicinity of Porto de Galinhas PE date back to the time of colonial Brazil.

The historical origin and the social and economic development of the state of Pernambuco are strongly linked to the sugar agro-industry, which, after four centuries of apogee, left as a legacy to the Pernambucans numerous customs and traditions that are still strongly rooted in the local culture, as well as material records of exceptional historical, artistic and landscape value.

However, over the years, this heritage has suffered successive damages and losses due to the modernisation of the sugar production process and the lack of measures to safeguard it.

As a consequence, the few sugar mills that still remain in Pernambuco are in a state of abandonment and/or ruin, with rare exceptions.

The Gaipió Sugar Mill, located in the rural area of the municipality of Ipojuca, is one of these rare exceptions.

The flow of tourists in Porto de Galinhas, South Coast of Pernambuco, is intense in January. Mainly because of the sea and the disputed strip of sand.

Visitors can come into contact with properties dating from the time of Colonial Brazil. Those who visit the region should reserve a few hours to go back in time and visit three mills that are still in full activity;

Sugar mills in the surroundings of Porto de Galinhas PE

1. Engenho Gaipió

One of the most important in the region, the Gaipió sugar mill is located in the rural area of Ipojucana and was, for a long time, the home of important personalities of Pernambuco, such as the former governor Ambrósio Machado da Cunha Cavalcanti.

The big house, built in 1863, preserves the neoclassical style furniture and decoration typical of 19th century society.

The Gaipió Mill, located in the rural area of the municipality of Ipojuca, is one of these rare exceptions.

Engenho Gaipió in Ipojuca PE
Engenho Gaipió in Ipojuca PE

The Gaipió Mill has preserved its architectural and landscape ensemble, even after having undergone considerable changes resulting from a partial expropriation for agrarian reform purposes, carried out in 1997 by the National Institute for Colonisation and Agrarian Reform (INCRA).

The construction of the Gaipió mill dates from 1783 to 1787. According to the historical accounts researched by the Ipojuca Special Secretariat for Culture, a chapel in honour of Saint Joseph, who became the patron saint of the mill, was built next to the Casa Grande.

Seventy-six years later, in 1863, Félix da Câmara Pimentel, grandson of the mill’s founder, moved the Casa Grande to the next hill.

A neoclassical mansion and a new chapel were built on the same site as the one built by his grandfather.

Gaipió Sugar Mill in Ipojuca PE
Gaipió Sugar Mill in Ipojuca PE
Gaipió Sugar Mill in Ipojuca PE
Gaipió Sugar Mill in Ipojuca PE

The local religious festival dates back to the end of the 18th century and records have been kept for the last 100 years.

There was a period when the feast of St Joseph was deactivated after part of the mill became an INCRA settlement in the 1990s, leaving part of the mill, the Casa Grande and the Chapel outside the demarcation.

As owner of the remaining area of the Gaipió Mill, where the Chapel of St Joseph and Casa Grande are located, the Marroquim Family decided to reactivate the religious festival in 2003, reviving the date and incorporating the traditional procession and masses into the folkloric and popular part.

Ipojuca is approximately 21km from Porto de Galinhas.

2. Massangana Mill

A 19th-century rural architectural complex consisting of the Casa-Grande and the Chapel of São Mateus on an area of ten hectares, Engenho Massangana is located in Cabo de Santo Agostinho, in the state of Pernambuco.

The name of the mill, of African origin, comes from the Massangana River which, at the time of the sugar boom, served to transport what was produced there, and in the mills of the region, to the port of Recife.

It is believed that Tristão de Mendonça founded the Massangana Mill, through the donation of a piece of land in the municipality made by Duarte Coelho, first grantee of the Captaincy of Pernambuco.

Trusted at state level as the National Abolition Park, Massangana was the place where the illustrious Pernambucan Joaquim Nabuco lived during his childhood and is referred to by him as the place where he built the basis of his abolitionist ideals.

Massangana Mill in Cabo de Santo Agostinho PE
Massangana Mill in Cabo de Santo Agostinho PE
Massangana Mill in Cabo de Santo Agostinho PE

Such accounts are present in his book Minha Formação (1910), whose content is explored in the permanent exhibition Nabuco and Massangana: time revisited.

In addition to spontaneous visitation, the equipment systematically receives the student public.

Through an educational programme, themes such as the legacy of Joaquim Nabuco’s thought, slavery and liberation struggles, Afro-Brazilian culture and the sugarcane economy are addressed, seeking to contribute to the production of new knowledge, strengthening heritage awareness and cultural identity.

The property features a furniture museum dating from the same period, located in the main building, and the baroque chapel of São Mateus. In these spaces, the writer Joaquim Nabuco lived much of his childhood and began his abolitionist struggle.

Porto de Galinhas Beach is the main tourist centre on the south coast, just 33 km from Cabo Santo Agostinho.

Sugar mills from around Porto de Galinhas PE

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