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The sertão, where rain is scarce and irregular, average temperatures are high, and the vegetation (called caatinga) is adapted to such tough conditions. Roughly speaking, the sertão is the area to the west of Arcoverde; Serra Talhada, Cabrobó and Salgueiro are important cities of the sertão. Petrolina, although also in the semi-arid zone, has benefited from the irrigation of the river São Francisco, and has become an important center of irrigated agriculture.


Serra Talhada („cut mountain range“) takes its name from the large mountain range that rises in the north and ends abruptly in one clean cut (talho) of rock face.

Approximately 430 kilometers (267 miles) west of Recife via the BR-232 highway, Serra Talhada is the birthplace of Virgulino Ferreira da Silva, the legendary cangaceiro Lampião.

The city’s main attraction is the small farm where the bandit was born in 1898. Serra Talhada is also known as the capital of xaxado, a rhythmic dance spread (but not invented) by Virgulino. On weekends the many xaxado groups rehearse throughout the city.

Pernambuco Regions

Detailed Map of the State of Pernambuco


The small farm where the beloved bandit Lampião was born is 45 kilometers (28 miles) outside of town.

It became a museum in 2001 and features photographs, weapons, and possessions of the „cangaceiros‘ king“.

Getting there is an adventure, requiring travel along a hilly, poorly signed road full of stones, goats, cows, and flocks of hawks. Call in advance to ensure that the museum is open. Casa de Lampião – an informal organization set up by Anildomá Willians de Souza, an expert on Virgulino – often has guides available to accompany tourists to the museum. 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Fazenda São Miguel.
6 kilometers (4 miles) are on dirt roads. Estrada Virgulino Ferreira da Silva.


The triangle, zabumba drum, accordion, and tambourine accompany Lampião’s favored dance. It’s performed during June festivities and religious presentations and at the hour-long rehearsals held by xaxado groups on Saturday afternoons.

The Cabras de Lampião and Maria Bonita groups rehearse at the Escola Estadual Methódio de Godoy Lima school (São Cristovão).

The oldest of the groups, Manuel Martins, can be seen at the Faculdade de Formaҫão de Professores de Serra Talhada college (Centro), while Cangaceiros da Vila Bela rehearse at Colégio Antonio Timóteo school (Bom Jesus). Information on the groups and their rehearsals is available at the Fundaҫão Casa de Cultura de Sena Talhada (Centro).


The Mercado Municipal serves breakfast from 7am to 10am at communal counters scattered around the market. The one with the most customers tends to offer the best breakfast.


A few years of 1920s economic boom earned this town, 450 kilometers (280 miles) northwest of Recife, the nickname“Princess of the Sertão“.

Triunfo’s sugarcane and coffee elite soon went bankrupt together, but not before leaving their mark architecturally.

The old houses with well-preserved faҫades near the neo-Gothic church Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora das Dores and around the lovely Aҫude Borborema reservoir in the town center are one attraction.

The Teatro Guarany embodies the glory days of the 1920s and the Museu do Cangaҫo has an interesting collection of weapons and other possessions from the days when cangaceiros (bandits) controlled the Northeast. The highest point in Pernambuco – Pico do Papagaio – is within Triunfo’s limits. Sugar mills such as São Pedro, which produces rapadura (brown sugar tablets) year-round, are plentiful on the road to Cachoeira do Pinga waterfall. To get to Triunfo from Recife, take the BR-232 highway west to Serra Talhada; from there, head north on the PE-365 state highway for 31 kilometers (19 miles).


Triunfo is the backlands capital of rapadura. Between July and December, more than 60 small, traditional sugar mills produce the large tablets of brown sugar present on every table in the Northeast.


Founded in 1971 , this Museum collects weapons, clothes, photographs, and possessions of f:lmous cangaceiros (bandits) – from Coristo’s knife to Lampião’s old accordion and 1916 tray. The building also houses the Museu da Cidade (City Museum), featuring everyday objects from houses in Triunfo, and the Muse u de Arte Sacra (Sacred Art Museum).

The Sacred Art Museum exhibits the intriguing roda aos enjeitados (foundling wheel), where mothers placed their unwanted babies to be raised in convents and monasteries (Praҫa Monsenhor Eliseu).


Brothers and tradesmen Manuel and Carolino Siqueira Campos were inspired to build a large theater in Triunfo. Opened in 1922, the Teatro Guarany found its glory days short lived. It felt into disuse that same decade, a result of Triunfo’s political and economic decline.

After several interior remodelings, the theater was repurposed as a bar, but it has since been restored to its original function.

Teatro Guarany opens for shows on special dates, seating up to 180 people, though visits are possible all year. Praҫa Carolino Campos, Centro.


At an altitude of 1,260 meters (4,130 feet), Pico do Papagaio is the highest point in Pernambuco.

Reaching the top involves an hour’s drive over 9 kilometers (6 miles) of rough, rocky road, but the panoramas from the top are reward enough for the long ride.


Francisco Pinheiro, known to many as Chico Santeiro, wandered the sertão at length before settling in Triunfo. Today he is considered the town’s greatest artist. He is known for his distinctively styled wooden statues of saints with expressive features and beautiful finishes. Avenida Getúlio Vargas, 206, Centro.


Petrolina, on the right bank of the São Francisco River in Pernambuco, connects to Juazeiro, Bahia, by bridge.

Ferry boats also cross between the two cities: The city embodies diversity and fusion , an identity embedded in its very name. „Petrolina“ is a combination of „Pedro“ (from Dom Pedro I) and „Leopoldina“ (from Maria Leopoldina of Hapsburg, archduchess of Austria and empress of Brazil).

The place used to be known as „Passagem de Joazeiro“ (Joazeiro Walkway), a route for northeasterns heading towards the south of Brazil.

Diversity exists not just in the city’s name, but in its music – a rhythmic mix of forró, pagode, axé, rock, and maracatu.

Planted in the middle of the sertão, 767 kilometers (477 miles) southwest of Recife, the city has defied drought to become Brazil’s major fruit and flower exporter. It has also begun to perfect its production of wines, including Port, becoming the second major center in the country and the only one on northeastern soil. About five million boxes of grapes and twelve million boxes of mangos are sold annually to Europe and Japan.

Petrolina’s highlights include the Espaҫo Cultural Ana das Carrancas, with its expressive figures, the Museu do Sertão, and the Bodódromo, a collection of restaurants which serve not goat (bode) as one might expect, but mutton.

Heading west on the BR-232 highway from Recife will bring you to Petrolina, but passes an area with a high incidence of robberies. The stretch near Salgueiro is especially risky. A safer route approaches Petrolina from the south, via Juazeiro, Bahia.

Petrolina airport greets regular flights from Recife and São Paulo.


Ana Leopoldina dos Santos, known as Ana das Carrancas, is one of the few women who make carrancas (grotesque gargoyle figures).

Her work is notable not only for its material – clay rather than wood – but also for one specific detail: the empty eye sockets. She vowed years ago to make her carrancas eyeless if their sale would keep her blind husband from having to beg in the streets. Today, octogenarian Ana is extremely successful. Rock bands (the Carrancudos) and maracatu groups (Matingueiros) have honored her, the local journalist Emanuel de Andrade has written her biography (Ana das Carrancas, a Dama de Barro), and her work is available in Europe. The cultural center sells Ana’s work and organizes workshops and courses for the community (BR-407 highway, 500, Cohab).


Community contributions helped build the neo-Gothic Catedral de Petrolina, which was finished in 1929 after four years of construction. The building’s stones come from the banks of the São Francisco and the stained glass from Grenoble, France.

The clock is a donation from Padre Cícero Romão Batista, a priest and politician from Ceará, recognized as a saint by northeasterners (Praҫa Dom Malan, Centro).


The Museu do Sertão’s diverse collection encompasses the backlands universe. It features everything from Lampião’s photographs and personal items to prehistoric fish fossils (proof that this region was once part of the ocean), from medicinal plants to a replica 18th -century backlands house.

First opened in 1973, the museum was renovated and reopened in 1996. Rua Esmelinda Brandão, Centro.


In September 2000, City Hall donated land for a gastronomic complex specializing in goat meat. The complex opened with ten restaurants; now there are eight, none of which serve bode (goat). They’ve all switched to mutton for reasons of supply: sheep reproduce twice a year and can have up to four lambs while goats produce just one kid in the same period. Mutton is also more tender and has a milder smell than goat. The complex also includes a stage featuring musical shows, kiosks, and snack bars. Avenida São Francisco, Areia Branca.


The phenomenon of São Francisco Valley wine production – the sun, northeastern soil, and river water allow the rare occurrence of biannual grape harvests – has already attracted the attention of European wine specialists. Unlike wines from the south of Brazil, this region’s wines are young and produced in aluminum kegs rather than traditional wooden casks. Vinicola Garziera, built in 2003, is a tourist-friendly winery. Fazenda Garibaldi, municipality of Lagoa Grande, 72 kilometers (45 miles) from Petrolina, towards Vermelhos.

Sertão in Pernambuco travel guide and tourism information such as accommodation, festivals, transport, maps, activities and attractions in Pernambuco, Brazil – Brazil Travel Guide

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