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The Zona da Mata region (region that extends from the coast to about 200 km inland) is where the secrets from the sugar cane cycle are kept, with centuries old sugar mills and houses that take the visitor back to the XVII and XVIII centuries.

Among the sugar cane fields, the wisdom of the local people created the local traditions of maracatus (percussion based rhythm), the caboclinho (a folkloric dance), the cavalo marinho (a folkloric presentation, dance) and the arts born of clay and from lace.

Map of Pernambuco Brazil

Map of Pernambuco Brazil

Detailed Map of the State of Pernambuco


The town of Tracunhaém takes its name, which means „dish of ants,“ from a legend that claims that the local Indians escaped from the Portuguese invaders by climbing into the Serra de Trapoá range – which resembled a container full of insects. Ceramics are Tracunhaém’s other indigenous inheritance.

The old potteries are now modern studios – such as those of famous artisans Nuca and Zezinho. The Centro de Produҫão Artesenal is a good starting point for learning about local ceramics.

Tracunhaém is 63 kilometers (39 miles) northwest of Recife. Take the BR-232 west from Recife towards Caruaru, and turn north when you reach the intersection with BR-408. Both roads have poor signage.


The Centro de Produҫão Artesanal brings together those apprentice and professional ceramicists who do not have their own studios. The center sells the work of its 45 participants as well as holding arts and crafts courses for the public. Praҫa Costa de Azevedo

Pernambuco Regions


Vicencia grew out of an old rural property, and, until 1891, was but a small di strict of the neighboring town of Nazaré da Mata. Vicencia features more than fifty sugarcane plantations, with architectural styles that span the entire tradition of northeastern architecture.

Many of these plantations are still in operation, offering visitors both a chance to experience history and a chance to sample various types of cachaҫas, all distilled in small mills on-site at the plantations.

Vicencia is 87 kilometers (54 miles) northwest of Recife, along the PE-74.


This mill is the only 18th century building of its type left in the entire state. The chapel annexed to the main house, the external staircase, and the absence of an internal courtyard are all characteristic of the architectural style of that period.

In the 19th century, the mill hosted meetings of separatists such as Frei Caneca, one of the leaders of the Confederation of the Equator (1824). Protected by lphan and recently restored, Poҫo Comprido now functions as a museum.

Its collection features photographs of sugarcane plantations and mills in Pernambuco, some of which are no longer in existence. Vila Marupé, Vicencia, accessible by the BR-407 and PE-074 highways.


Passira, 90 kilometers (56 miles) northwest of Recife makes its living from embroidery – so much so that it has earned the nickname „The City of Embroidery.“

Everywhere in town – on sidewalks, in front of houses, in stores, on small farms – you’ll see women chatting and stitching, while men sell the finished tablecloths, sheets, shirts, and other linens. The women show and sell their work at the Feira do Bordado (Embroidery Fair), which runs in October (Rua da Matriz).


Meaning „Ox Cart Lake,“ the origin of the town’s name is as straightforward as they come: years ago, an ox-cart is said to have fallen into a nearby lake. The town is known for its rug makers. The town is also known for its Museu da Cachaҫa, with a world record number of cachaҫas on display.

Lagoa do Carro is 61 kilometers (38 miles) northwest of Recife; continue 10 kilometers (6 miles) past the Carpina intersection on the PE-90.


The Associaҫão de Tapeceiras de Lagoa do Carro is an organization of some one hundred craftswomen famed for their needlework. A large warehouse that features their wares sits by the side of the PE-90 (Km 11 on PE-90).

The store Marina Artesanato (Km 8 from PE-90) also sells work by several of the artisans. The rug makers of Lagoa de Carro formed the Cooperativa Arte Nossa (Km 8 from PE-90) a co-operative which now has 25 branches.

In conjunction with the Association, the Cooperative acts as an intermediary between artisans, government institutions, and companies that organize events and fairs.


Browsing in a Brasilia supermarket in 1986, José Moisés de Moura was so impressed by the variety of cachaҫas. He bought twenty labels that were available, beginning the collection that now comprises the Museu da Cachaҫa.

Opened in 1998, the museum’s vast assortment of liquors earned a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records as „the greatest collector of cachaҫas in the world.“ In early 2005, the museum held 7,310 labels. These include varieties from every state in Brazil, as well as cachaҫas from 20 other countries.

The museum reserves two bottles of each variety for its collection and offers the rest for tasting and selling. Chacara Girassol, Zona Rural.


Carpina is the self-styled capital of the Zona da Mata. Its most cherished local tradition is a style of puppet theater using dolls known as mamulengos – a name derived from mão (hand) and molenga (loose).

Carpina is also known for its Vaquejada (a kind of rodeo), its São João festivities, and its donkey races.

The famed Cavalgada horseback riding event is held on the surrounding sugarcane plantations. Carpina is 9 kilometers (6 miles) south of Tracunhaém and 49 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Recife, reached on the BR-408 highway heading toward Caruaru.


Much of Carpina’s fame as the „Puppet City“ comes from the work of Antonio Elias da Silva, known as Sallba. His pieces can be seen in the Museu do Mamulengo in Olinda as well as the Museu do Homem do Nordeste in Recife.

Other notable mamulengueiros (puppet-makers) are Adel, Bibil, Pindoca, and Miro, who sell their work in the city and to hotels throughout the Northeast and Southeast of Brazil. Like many crafts, puppet-making often supports entire families.



To win the Vaquejada competition held every May in Carpina, a horseman must bring down a bull by pulling on its tail.

The Vaquejada competition attracts a more affluent crowd than the corrida de jegues (donkey race), which the town holds every September. In November, some six hundred horsemen ride in the Cavalgada.

They spend an entire day riding among the sugarcane plantations. It is a tradition that the plantation owners take turns supplying the riders with lunch every year.



You can see every stage of traditional, small-scale cachaҫa production here, from the selecting of the sugarcane to the bottling of the finished product. In between, you ‚ll learn how the drink is prepared in a copper still and aged in oak barrels.

At Engenho Agua Doce, the sugarcane is pesticide-free and crushed within 24 hours of being cut. Tours end with a cachaҫa tasting session. Rodovia PE-074, Km 10, Vicencia.


The municipality of Nazaré da Mata has is fumed for its dedication to maracatu rural. This 19th century dance style is a fusion of several dance traditions of indigenous, African, and Portuguese (specifically Catholic) origin: the most obvious influences are from buma-meu-boi, pastoral, cavalo-marinho, caboclinho, and folia-dos-reis.

Today the town’s eighteen dance groups (some with up to 200 members each) still blend the region’s music, dance, costumes, and characters.

The orchestra that accompanies the dancers features many percussion – zabumba, bass, and snare drums, cuicas, gongues (cow bells), and ganzá shakers – as well as trumpets, clarinets, and trombones. The group leader, called mestre, animates each performance by delivering improvised verses. This folk tradition is best enjoyed during Carnival or at the Encontro de Maracatus, held annually near the end of November in the town’s central square.

At other times of the year, you’ll find maracatu groups giving presentations at events organized by City Hall. Nazaré da Mata is 65 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Recife along BR-408.

Zona da Mata Region in Pernambuco travel Guide and tourism information such as accommodation, festivals, transport, maps, activities and attractions in Pernambuco, Brazil – Btrazil Travel Guide

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