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Boa Viagem (Neighborhood, Recife)

Recife neighborhood, Pernambuco.

Boa Viagem (Neighborhood, Recife)

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 01/06/2022

By: Leonardo Dantas - Researcher at the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation - Historian, Bachelor of Laws

To experience Recife, a few hours’ walk is not enough, but a real collusion between the visitor and the nature to be beheld.


To experience Recife, especially to feel the trade winds breeze caressing the face and ruffling the hair, we set out in search of beaches, where the sea is a mountain and everything becomes an eternal invitation to enchantment.


Leaving downtown, leaving the neighborhoods of Santo Antônio and São José behind, we head towards the Agamenon Magalhães bridge, the longest in the city, with a span of 424 meters. Crossing the southern arm of Capibaribe, we enter the lands of the former island of Nogueira, thus reaching the coastal strip of Praia do Pina, with its wide stretch of sand taken by rafts and bathers.


This is where Avenida Boa Viagem begins, inaugurated in the government of Sérgio Loreto, on October 20, 1924, when he had a tramway line for Pernambuco Tramways installed, transforming it over time into the beautiful beach in the region.


Here we have our encounter with the white sand beaches, decorated with coconut trees and the undergrowth of our coast. Beaches where rafts rest with their sails in the wind after a day’s work. True pools of warm water, protected by a long trench of reefs, where the green waters of the sea are always breaking. There, the beaches of Pina and Boa Viagem await us, an earthly paradise within reach of our senses, as in the verses of Baltazar de Oliveira:


In thought: the white sand of Pina,
an island, then, only for humble residents…
Hammocks in the sun... the sea sings softly...
Full sails in the wind... fishermen...


There are about seven kilometers of fine sand, pools of transparent water, coconut trees swaying in the wind, rafts destined for fishing and sightseeing, well-kept gardens, beautiful buildings with unique sculptures by local artists, kiosks offering tasty green coconut water, excellent hotels, in one of the most beautiful stretches of the Brazilian coast. Throughout the year, however, these beaches belong to all of us, locals or visitors, who find peace in the refreshing waters. Gilberto Freyre found in Boa Viagem the fresh wind, reefs; a good smell of fresh sargassum? and thus, in his practical, historical and sentimental Guide to the City of Recife, he sang his delights:


By the reefs of Boa Viagem is pleasant to walk the boy, the young man and even the old man, when the sea is low; and the little fish, some blue, others yellow striped with black, can be seen in all their glory of colors, swimming in the greenish pools that the sun warms. The sun warms, summer weather and low seas, the water of the various basins that in Boa Viagem are a true succession of pools, between the reefs and the beach. There is the idea that, inside these pools, someone prepares the bathing water: a mysterious housemaid who grades the temperature of the sea – the sea thus conditioned in swimming pools – to the delight of the many gentlemen and the many ladies from the land or coming from the South and abroad that do not find here the cold of European waters or even those of Copacabana; but a water that is both green and warm at the same time. A bath in Boa Viagem is one of the greatest treats that Recife offers to newcomers as well as natives. One of the most typical experiences of Recife that a foreigner can have in Recife: a sea of warm water, a sun that in a short time tans the body of the European or the Brazilian southerner; fresh wind; reefs; sargassum. A pleasant smell of fresh sargassum sometimes greets the tourist.


In the afternoons, or even in the evenings, the large sidewalk of Boa Viagem is always an invitation to a healthy stroll, with the trade breeze caressing the face and ruffling the hair.


In the first garden, a street takes us to the Aeroclube de Pernambuco, founded on March 15, 1940 in Encanta Moça; in the second garden, at number 1450, looking out to sea, there is a bust of the painter Teles Júnior (1851-1914); at No. 3500 (Edifício Portugal), a small size replica of the Monument to the Discoveries in Belém (Lisbon); at around No. 5000 we will find Praia da Boa Viagem, with its baroque-style church, the place where the village that gave rise to the friendly resort began.


In the square, a granite obelisk, with the coat of arms of the city of Recife in front of it, marks: Avenida Boa Viagem. Government of the Honorable Dr. Sérgio Loreto. Builder, engineer Mário Castilhos – 1922-1926? On its four sides, the monument marks the dates of 1654 (Restauração Pernambucana), 1710 (War of the Mascates), 1817 (Republic of Pernambuco), 1824 (Ecuador Confederation).


The village of Boa Viagem has its beginnings in the 17th century, due to the existence of some local stores that served as a resting place for travelers who passed through it coming from the southern route of the Captaincy of Pernambuco. One of these stores was owned by Manuel Fernandes Setúbal, a name currently remembered for the stretch now comprised by the Setúbal neighborhood. On June 6, 1707, Baltazar da Costa Passos and his wife Ana de Araújo, residents of Recife, made a donation to Father Leandro Camelo, a resident of Prazeres, of a hundred fathoms of land to build “a chapel to say mass, with the invocation of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” patrimony increased by other successive donations. In 1743, the chapel was already built, managed by a priest appointed by the bishop, according to an inventory of November 20 of that year, signed by father Inácio Ribeiro Noia, where the “golden and painted niche” shows the image of Our Lady of Navigators (Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem), patron saint of navigators and travelers who came from the Sertão, as well as other images, implements and even a slave named Miguel. On the façade there was a bell and a porch, which was demolished in 1845, with the date 1707 remaining on its frontispiece.


The village of Boa Viagem gained new momentum in 1858, when the first section of the Recife-São Francisco Railroad was inaugurated, whose trains bound for Vila do Cabo stopped at the station located at the end of the current Rua Barão de Souza Leão. Initially a trolley and then a donkey tram connected the square to the railway station, motivating the attendance of many families in the summer to spend the Christmas holiday?


The construction of Avenida Boa Viagem, in 1924, and its proximity to the Guararapes Airport, greatly contributed to the development of the neighborhood that, in October 1954, saw the opening of its first international-class hotel, the Hotel Boa Viagem, “with 100 apartments facing the sea”


Here the sea is a mountain
regular, round and blue,
higher than the reefs
and shallow mangroves to the south.

João Cabral de Melo Neto.



Recife, July 22, 2003.

Copyright Reserved to the Author


how to quote this text

SILVA, Leonardo Dantas. Boa Viagem (Neighborhood, Recife). In: PESQUISA Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2003. Available from: Access on: Month. day, year. (Ex.: Aug. 6, 2020.)