Madalena, Neighbourhood, Recife, PE

Lúcia Gaspar
Joaquim Nabuco Foundation Librarian
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The lands of the Madalena neighbourhood originally belonged to Jerônimo de Albuquerque, as part of the gift made by his brother-in-law, Duarte Coelho.

At the end of the 16th Century, the lands were passed onto his children, who sold them to various people. The stretch where the neighbourhood lies today was sold to Pedro Afonso Duro, married to Madalena Gonçalves, who founded a sugarcane plantation on the site, later selling it to João de Mendonça, who was its owner in 1630. It was known as the Engenho Madalena (Magdalene Plantation) or Engenho do Mendonça (Mendonça Plantation).

In the past, the neighbourhood was one of the best sugar producing zones.

The plantation was situated where today the Praça João Alfredo (João Alfredo Square) is located. The plantation manor, where the owners lived, was known for a long time as the Sobrado Grande da Madalena (Madalena Plantation Manor).

This manor, after many reforms, was the residence of Councillor João Alfredo Correia de Oliveira for a long time during the Imperial period. Today it is occupied by the 1st District of IPHAN – the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Patrimony – and the Abolition Museum.

In the neighbourhood is the famous Mercado da Madalena (Madalena Market), inaugurated on 19 October 1925 and built next to the site where there was an open-air public market. It was initially called Mercado Bacurau (Nighthawk Market – a nocturnal bird) because it was open at night.

Besides the Market, still operating today, is the traditional feira de passarinhos (bird market), greatly attended on Sundays by Recife’s residents.

Near the market is also the headquarters of the Pernambuco Engineering Club and, behind it, Sabiá Farm, owned by the Valença family, which has many composers and musicians, with the most famous being the Valença Brothers.

The Baron and later Count of Boa Vista resided in the Madalena neighbourhood until 1841, when he moved into the palace on Aurora St, where he died in 1870.
Recife, 18 July 2003.
(Updated on 31 August 2009).

Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2012.


BRAGA, João. Trilhas do Recife: guia turístico, histórico e cultural. [S.l. : s. n., 2000]. p.148.

GUERRA, Flávio. Velhas igrejas e subúrbios históricos. Recife: Prefeitura Municipal, [s.d.] p. 191-195.

PEREIRA DA COSTA, Francisco Augusto. Arredores do Recife. 2.ed. autônoma. Apresentação e organização de Leonardo Dantas Silva. Recife: Fundaj, Ed. Massangana, 2001. p. 114-119.


Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Madalena, Neighbourhood, Recife, PE. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009



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