Penedo in Alagoas preserves an enviable architectural ensemble from colonial Brazil

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Penedo em Alagoas
Penedo in Alagoas

Penedo in Alagoas was founded in 1565 and is a page in the history of colonial Brazil.

Built on the banks of the São Francisco River, it preserves an enviable architectural ensemble in which stand out: the Sete de Setembro Theatre, from the 19th century, and the 18th century churches, Nossa Senhora da Corrente, São Gonҫalo Garcia dos Homens Pretos and Nossa Senhora dos Anjos.

A suggestion is to visit the floodplain of Marituba do Peixe, just 20 kilometres from the city. From Maceió, Penedo can be reached by the AL-101; it is 168 kilometres, on a road in good condition.

See the tourist map of Alagoas.

For those leaving Aracaju, the best option is the BR-101 to the junction near Nascenҫa, where you take the SE-304 to Neópolis, 35 kilometres away. From there you have to take a ferry (they leave every half hour) to the city.

A masterpiece of the Rococo style in Brazil, the church of Nossa Senhora da Corrente began to be built in 1764 and was completed in the last decade of the 19th century. The simple façade conceals an interior of immense richness.

The high altar is veneered in gold, with exquisite carving in shades of blue and pink marble, and the two sides of the nave are covered with Portuguese tiles.

Also impressive are the carving of the pulpit, the painting of the nave ceiling by Libório Lazdro Lial Afes, a Pernambuco artist who worked on several religious buildings in the city, and the 19th-century English tiles on the floor of the church, restored with funds from the Monumenta Programme.

Tradition has it that the church hid escaped slaves behind a false door located on the side altar on the left side of the entrance (Praҫa 12 de Abril, s/n).

Opened in 1759, a year after construction began, the church of São Gonҫalo Garcia dos Homens Pardos stands out for its façade, whose neo-Gothic bell towers date from the 19th century (Av. Floriano Peixoto, s/n, Centre).

The catedral de Nossa Senhora do Rosário began to be built in 1690. The façade was demolished in 1815, and another one was erected in its place, with beautiful coloured stained-glass windows (Praҫa Barão de Penedo, s/n, Centro).

Built by Franciscans between the 17th and 18th centuries, the complex, which includes the church of Nossa Senhora dos Anjos and the convent of São Francisco, is one of the most important in Alagoas and follows the lines of the Portuguese Baroque.

The sober exterior contrasts with the rich rococo carvings of the interior; the ceiling features the illusionist painting by Libório Lazdro Lial Afes (Praҫa Frei Camilo de Lellis, 218, Centro).

Videos about the Tourist Spots and the History of Penedo AL

TOURIST POINTS OF PENEDO IN ALAGOAS

1. MUSEUM OF THE IMPERIAL PACE – MUSEU DO PAÇO IMPERIAL

Since 1859, when it hosted Dom Pedro II and his entourage, this 18th century townhouse has been called the Imperial Palace. The institution collects pieces from the 1700s and 1800s and owes its collection to donations from families in the city.

MUSEU DO PAÇO IMPERIAL EM PENEDO AL
MUSEU DO PAÇO IMPERIAL in PENEDO AL

Inaugurated in 1971, the museum, which houses a collection of sacred art, furniture and decorative objects, was an initiative of the then mayor Raimundo Marinho, honoured in 2002 with the opening of an annexed memorial.

It is worth climbing to the second floor to enjoy a beautiful view of the São Francisco River.

Also noteworthy is the finish of the 2.20-metre-high by 1.30-metre-wide canvas painted by Francisco Lopes Ruiz, depicting the emperor who made the building famous (Praҫa 12 de Abril, s/n, Centro).

2. THEATRE SETE DE SETEMBRO

Designed to house the Imperial Philharmonic of Penedo, created in 1865, the theatre began to be built in 1881.

THEATRO SETE DE SETEMBRO EM PENEDO AL
THEATRO SETE DE SETEMBRO EM PENEDO AL

The inauguration would take place three years later, on Independence Day. Designed by the Italian architect Luiz Lucariny, the neoclassical building has four laurel statues at the top of its façade, representing the muses of poetry, music, dance and painting.

The theatre, which was restored in the 1980s, hosts the Festival de Férias no Teatro from July to August. Av. Floriano Peixoto, 81, Centre

3. CASA DO PENEDO

The nine rooms of this museum summarise the history of the city. They hold objects that belonged to illustrious local families, as well as a good collection of iconography and documents.

Maintained by a foundation, the Casa do Penedo carries out restoration work on old newspapers and books and supports writers from Penedo. Guided tours can be booked. Rua João Pessoa, 126, Centre

4. WALK TO THE MARITUBA DO PEIXE VARIETY

A small town located 20 kilometres from Penedo, between the city and Piaҫabuҫu – the so-called “Pantanal of Alagoas” – Marituba has become known for its large floodplain with navigable channels.

The trip is made aboard a canoe and lasts about an hour; the local guides (found in the only agency in town or in front of the church of Nossa Senhora da Corrente) take care of hiring the canoeist.

A common activity in the village is straw craft. Many women make their doorsteps a point of sale for bags, hats and baskets made from this material. Another attraction is the Flour House, where rustic wooden instruments are used.

5. CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF THE CURRENT

The Church of Nossa Senhora da Corrente in Penedo was built by the Lemos family, who were against slavery.

igreja de Nossa Senhora da Corrente
igreja de Nossa Senhora da Corrente em Penedo AL
Interior da Igreja Nossa Senhora da Corrente em Penedo AL
Interior da Igreja Nossa Senhora da Corrente em Penedo AL
Altar da Igreja Nossa Senhora da Corrente em Penedo AL
Altar da Igreja Nossa Senhora da Corrente em Penedo AL

Then, when building the church, they made a secret passage to hide runaway slaves. It was begun in 1764 by Captain Major José Gonçalo Garcia Reis and completed around 1790 by Captain André de Lemos Ribeiro.

The name of the church can be explained by various origins associated with popular imagination.

The first is associated with the surname of one of its benefactors, Ana Felícia da Corrente, and the church’s patron saint, Our Lady, as well as its proximity to a river. Others believe that the name was given by the Portuguese José Gonçalo Garcia Reis, who, managing to free himself from a prison in his homeland, fled to Brazil and arrived in Penedo with a piece of the chain.

The church’s decorative features include the high altar, crossing arch, pelmets and pulpit.

The shell has precious sinuosity, set against a jaspered background with red and gold details, emphasised by the white background and beams of light coming from the façade. Small Portuguese statues, in the style of a nativity scene, are also graceful elements of the ensemble. Germain Bazin said the church’s decoration is “an admirable ensemble”, which makes the temple, “almost unknown”, “one of the most beautiful in Brazil”.

Tourism and Travel Guide to the São Francisco River in Alagoas

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