Porto de Galinhas
Itamaracá - Pernambuco
«Cities of Pernambuco
Population: 15.858 inhabitants
Distance from Recife: 47 km
Acesses: PE-35, BR-101, PE-15 e PE-01. Visit maps of Recife and Pernambuco.
The word Itamaracá is of indian origin and means "stone that sings" or "singing stone".
Acording to History records, the first settlements date back to 1508; in 1540, Itamaracá was already promoted to village. This makes Itamaracá one of the oldest cities in Brazil.
One of the most important Historic landmarks in the Northeast of the Brazil is the Forte Orange (photo). The Forte Orange (Orange Fortress) was built in 1631 by the Dutch invasors (hence the name, as Orange is the National color of Holland); The Dutch used the fortress as basis for the the invasion and occupation of Olinda (see History of Recife and Pernambuco).
Located in the northern coast of Pernambuco, the island of Itamaracá has the economy strongly based on tourism. The beaches of Itamaracá are much visited, particularly by people who live in Olinda and Recife; before the recent explosion of Porto de Galinhas, Itamaracá used to be the preferred place to keep a beach house. The culture of the city is also prominent; known as "the capital of ciranda", the Island of Itamaracá has groups which struggle to keep this kind of regional dance alive. The Pilar, the Forte Orange, the Coroa do Avião and the famous Vila Velha (Old Village) are some of the places that attract tourists from all over Brazil.
The Coroa do Avião (Crown of the Airplane) is an extense sand bank located between the Island of Itamaracá and the Continent; the place is used for researching on the habits of migratory birds. The place is lined with small restaurants and stalls, which catter for the many boats of all sizes which bring the visitors; see these pictures of the Coroa do Avião.
To give an extra boost to the local economy, the Pernambuco State Government is making investments to include the area in the Nautical Touristic Circuit of Brazil. The planning is the construction of seven mooring piers in the beaches of Maria Farinha, Coroa do Avião, Itamaracá, Catuama and in the estuaries of Nova Cruz, Igarassu and Itapissuma. These areas are being equiped with convenience stores, bars, information booths, exhibition places and sanitaries.
The Circuit is increasing the tourist flow in the North Coast of Pernambuco; this area is considered the biggest nautical cluster of the Northeast of Brazil, with a fleet of about two thousand boats. The project includes also investments in the nautical industry to prepare the sector for repair and maintenance of the fleet, generating more jobs and bringing more progress to the region.
In the agriculture, the main cultures are of banana, beans, coconuts, manyoc and sugar cane.
Besides the island of Itamaracá, the Metropolitan Region of Recife comprehends also the cities of Recife, Olinda, Jaboatão dos Guararapes, Abreu e Lima, Paulista, Igarassu, Itapissuma, Cabo de Santo Agostinho, Ipojuca, Camaragibe, São Lourenço da Mata, Araçoiaba and Moreno.
A good way to start a trip to the the Ilha de Itamaracá is to visit the Vila Velha - (Old City)(see photo). From the hilltop, one may appreciate a nice view of the Historic houses and chapels of the XVI century.
A complete tour around the city can take a whole day, including scenery viewing, visits to Historical buildings, a bath in the ocean and a meal with fish and seafood. For those interested in the ecosystem, a recommended option is to visit the mangrove reserves, at the banks of Santa Cruz river, right at the entrance of the city.
The Forte Orange is also worthy a visit. Built in 1631 by the Dutch, the fortress exhibits a collection of Dutch maps and pieces from the period they lived here.
To enjoy the sunny weather, visit the beaches of the Forte, Coroa do Avião, Enseada dos Golfinhos and Pontal da Ilha. To learn more about the sea life, schedule a visit to the Centro de Mamíferos Aquáticos (Water Mamals Center). This center is a protected area for procriation of manatees, and is open for visitations from Tuesday to Sunday.
By night, try to visit Jaguaribe beach and watch a group of ciranda; the most famous is the one led by singer Lia de Itamaracá.
Source of information: IBGE and Government of the State of Pernambuco
Pictures credits: Government of the State of Pernambuco