The cities of Zona da Mata were born around the large sugar cane mills

Map of Zona da Mata PE
Map of Zona da Mata PE

The cities in the Zona da Mata of Pernambuco were born around the large sugar mills and mills of sugar cane and grew by structuring themselves to supply the products and services required by the sulcro-alcohol complex.

Zona da Mata is an Atlantic Forest region on the coast of Pernambuco.

The activities of the cities in the Zona da Mata of Pernambuco are predominantly rural, and the centers of convergence of rural production have always been the mills and not the cities.

These did not function as warehouses and did not develop their own dynamics, living to meet the needs of the plants and the people involved with them.

This explains the fact that cities have neither developed nor grown. The largest still have an urban population of up to 60.000 inhabitants, especially Carpina, Palmares, Timbaúba, Escada and goiana.

The exception is Vitória de Santo Antão, whose population is close to 100.000 inhabitants.

See the map of Pernambuco

See also other features Sugar mills around Porto de Galinhas

Main tourist cities in Zona da Mata PE

1. Tracunhaem

The striking features of the city's identity Tracunhaem, located 63 kilometers from Recife, were inherited from the indigenous people.

For starters, the name, which means “ant pot”.

According to legend, to escape the Portuguese, the Indians of the region climbed the Serra de Trapoá, which from a distance looked like a container full of insects.

The other heritage: the art of pottery, practiced by the natives. The old potteries were transformed into workshops and multiplied, so that Tracunhaém became known as “the city of clay crafts”.

The reputation of studios such as those of Nuca and Zezinho has gone beyond the borders of the place, where there is an Artisanal Production Center. To get to Tracunhaém from Recife, take the BR-232 towards Caruaru and, from there, the BR-408. The paths are poorly signposted.


Due to illness, Manuel Borges da Silva, his Nuca, stopped working a few years ago. However, his most famous creations, such as the polka dot-maned lions and the Dondoca doll, are still produced by his children and granddaughter.

The studio represents the city's tradition, in which ceramics support entire families (Rua Manoel Pereira de Morais, 118).

The Zezinho atelier plays the same role, in which José Joaquim da Silva works in the production of life-size saints.

During the Christmas period, the pieces are usually found in shopping malls in Recife, at much higher prices (Av. Desembargador Carlos Vaz, 85, Centro).

Santos is also the specialty of the Maria Amélia studio, which sells items by the artisan Maria Amélia da Silva (praҫa Costa Azevedo, 76).


It brings together apprentice craftsmen and professionals who do not have their own studio. Maintained by the state government, the center sells the work of its 45 participants and runs courses related to crafts. (Costa de Azevedo square, no number)

2. Experience

The city of vice, 87 kilometers from Recife with access via the PE-74, it arose from an old rural property and was a district of the neighboring Nazaré da Mata until 1891.

Its great attraction is the rich historical heritage: in its lands there are more than fifty sugar mills, examples of different moments of northeastern architecture.

Many of them, still in operation, combine historical interest with the possibility of tasting artisanal cachaça.



The beginning of settlement in the municipality of Vicência dates back to the 1850th century, being consolidated from XNUMX onwards when, on sugarcane production land, the owner Vicência Barbosa de Melo had a chapel built in honor of Sant'Ana near her residence.

Located in a strategic location in the passage of the village of Goiana, the town expanded, marking the history of Pernambuco at this time, when it served as a refuge for Frei Caneca in the context of the Confederation of Ecuador, in 182. In 5 it received the title parish, being elevated to the category of village in 1879 and, in 1891, conquering its definitive autonomy as a municipality.

Engenho do Poço Comprido, which is 12 km from the municipal seat, has a program typical of the first complexes installed in Brazil, with unique remnants in the Pernambuco region, such as the pillory and the two-story veranda of the main house.

An internal passage connects the second floor of the main house with the chapel's choir and tribunes, allowing direct access for the owners and, by extension, guaranteeing the hierarchical separation between masters, workers and slaves.

The chapel has a front façade with Baroque features, two side altars and a high altar with a wooden ceiling and fresco. The architectural volume made up of these two buildings was recognized as built heritage by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute in 1962.


Cachaça Engenho Água Doce is produced in the municipality of Vicência, on the banks of PE 74, Km 10 – Zona da Mata Norte in Pernambuco, 87 km from Recife. Its producers are members of the Andrade Lima Family, which owns the place.

Engenho Água Doce in Vicencia PE
Engenho Água Doce in Vicencia PE

The mill acquired more than a century ago by the family was a producer of raw sugar, rapadura, mill honey and cachaça. Until 1958 the mills were in operation, until for financial reasons the business stopped.

In 2003, they restarted the production of artisanal cachaça, seeking to develop a product with the tradition of the Andrade Lima family and with the principle of quality. All production complies with quality criteria. In 2006 they started the production of liqueurs, using cachaça and tropical fruits, produced in the mill itself and in the region. 

3. Passira – the city of Embroidery

In Passira, 90 kilometers away from Recife, the main source of income for families is embroidery. Everywhere – on the sidewalks, in front of houses, in shops and farms – the scene is repeated: gossips talk and embroider, while men take care of the trade in towels, sheets, shirts and other linen items.

Every year, from the 7th to the 9th of October, the Embroidery Fair (Rua da Matriz) takes place in Passira, in which the embroiderers exhibit and sell their delicate garments.

4. Car Lagoon

The name Lagoa do Carro comes from an alleged accident that occurred in remote times: an ox cart would have fallen into the lake in the locality.

Lagoa do Carro, located 61 kilometers from Recife (10 kilometers on the PE-90 after the Carpina interchange), is known both for its upholstery, which started an intense production around thirty years ago, and for the Cachaça Museum, whose creator has already appeared in the Guinness book.


A large shed on the edge of the PE-90 unites the work of just over one hundred women who are part of the Association of Tapeceiras de Lagoa do Carro (PE-90, km 8), which also accepts orders from other states, as well as the Marina store Handicraft, which sells pieces from various tapestries (km 8 of the PE-90).

The union of tapestry makers from Lagoa do Carro led to the creation of the Cooperativa Arte Nossa, now with 25 affiliates. Together with the Association, it acts as an intermediary between artisans, government institutions and companies that organize events and fairs (km 8 of the PE-90).


In 1986, upon entering a supermarket in Brasília, José Moisés de Moura was impressed by the number of brands of cachaça available. He bought the twenty he found there and started a collection that gave rise to the Museu da Cachaça.

Inaugurated in 1998, its collection named the creator in Guinness in 2000 as “the biggest collector of cachaça in the world”.

In the second half of 2007, there were 8038 brands, from all Brazilian states – Minas ahead – and from twenty countries. The museum reserves two for the collection and one for tasting and shopping. Girassol farm, y/n, rural area.

5. Carpine

In the city of carpine, self-proclaimed “capital of the Zona da Mata”, trade is strong and traditions remain solid.

One of them is the puppet theater, known in Pernambuco as mamujengos – a name resulting from the combination of the words “mão” and “molenga”.

The city, 9 kilometers from Tracunhaém and 49 from Recife (accessible by BR-408, towards Caruaru), is also known for Vaquejada, São João festivities, the unusual donkey race and Cavalgada, carried out through the interior of the mills.


Much of Carpina's fame as a “city of mamulengos” comes from the production of Antônio Elias da Silva, the Saúba, whose magnificent pieces can be seen at the Mamulengo Museum, in Olinda, and at the Museum of the Northeastern Man, in Recife .

In addition to him, the mamulengueiros Adel, Bibil, Pindoca and Miro stand out, artisans who sell their dolls in the city and to hotels in the Northeast and Southeast of the country, in an activity responsible for supporting entire families.


The aim of Vaquejada, an event that takes place every year during the month of May, is for the rider to bring down an ox by pulling it by the tail. As it involves larger animals and generous prizes, the dispute usually attracts a more economically favored public – unlike the donkey race, held in September, enshrined as a more popular party.

It is a competition similar to a horse race – only the donkeys are positioned for the start. In November, it's time for the Cavalgada, another traditional festival, in which around XNUMX mounted men travel, for a day, inside the mills.

One of the properties is in charge of providing lunch for the knights.

6. Nazaré da Mata

The city of Nazareth of the Forest this 65 kilometers from Recife and with access via the BR-408, the municipality stands out for preserving the roots of rural maracatu, a revelry that emerged in the region in the XNUMXth century as a result of the fusion of different folklore manifestations – bumba-meu-boi, pastoril, seahorse, caboclinho and folia-de-reis.

Today, the city has eighteen groups of up to two hundred members. All mix music, dance, fantasy and characters from the northeastern culture.

Instruments such as the bass drum, the surdo, the tarol, the cuíca, the gonguê, the gamá, the trumpet, the clarinet and the trombone are part of the orchestra that plays.

The celebration is also animated by the loas, improvised verses recited by the master. It is possible to appreciate this popular tradition in Nazaré during Carnival and also at the Encontro de Maracatus, held every year, at the end of November, in the city's central square.

In addition, folklore groups perform during events organized by the City Hall.

Pernambuco's Zona da Mata Tourism Guide

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Geography of the Northeast Region of Brazil - video

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *


15 + 19 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your feedback data is processed.

Hide picture