Dois Irmãos (Neighbourhood, Recife)
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Last update: 03/01/2017
Like most of Recife’s neighbourhoods, Dois Irmãos was also an important plantation. In the first half of the 19th century, the land belonged to the Apipucos sugarcane factory, whose owners were the brothers Antônio Lins Caldas and Tomás Lins Caldas, nicknamed respectively Captain Coló and Seu Toné. As they showed great love for each other and always lived in harmony, they called their property Engenho dos Dois Irmãos [the Two Brothers’ Plantation]. It was a very modern mill, driven by the hydraulic power of the Apipucos River.
The last connection to the existence of this plantation comes from the news from the Praieira Revolution: the sixth battalion of hunters, who encamped on 30 November 1848 under Major João Guilherme de Bruce, dislodged the strength of the liberal revolutionaries or ‘Praieiros’, who had taken refuge on the Dois Irmãos Plantation. The revolutionary force was unable to resist the clash with the troops, yielding the field and retreating towards Pedra Mole.
The section called Pedra Mole is the same one that today is known as the Horto Florestal de Dois Irmãos [Forest Garden] or the Dois Irmãos Zoo/Botanical Garden. A few centuries ago however, there was in the locality a small settlement and a voluminous lake, known as Lago da Prata.
Why did the lake have that name?
The story goes that at the end of the 16th century, a wealthy plantation madam (from the lands of Camaragibe and also from Apipucos) called Branca Dias was denounced for the crime of Judaism before the Tribunal of the Holy Office. Given a prison sentence, Branca Dias threw all of her expensive silverware into the nearby pond (or lake). So precious was the silverware, says the legend, that the waters of the pond changed colour: they became as clear and clean as silver. Hence the name given to the lake.
The plausible part of this story must now be explained. Mrs Branca Dias actually lived in Recife and was a very wealthy plantation owner. Accused of following the Jewish religion, she was arrested by the Inquisitors, taken to Portugal, condemned by the Holy Office Court, and burned alive at the stake of the Holy Inquisition.
For having received such a cruel condemnation, Branca Dias was pitied by the people and the lake located on her plantation became known as Lago de Prata [Silver Lake] or Riacho da Prata [Silver Creek].
In 1847, the Companhia do Beberibe (now closed) began operating in Dois Irmãos. Taking advantage of the spring of the Apipucos River and the Lago da Prata, the company began supplying potable and plumbed water for the whole city. It operated from the two residences of its former owners (the Lins Caldas brothers), which were reformed for the plant’s installation.
In Dois Irmãos, there is the garden of Praça Farias Neves, designed by landscape architect Burle Marx, with different types of vegetation: several palm trees, rose apple, Mulungu, brazilwood, grass, shrubs and other trees.
There is a building in the square built in 1887, where the current Pernambuco Water and Sewage Company (COMPESA) operates. It was in this same place that the Beberibe Company (of water supply) functioned in 1838.
Near the park can also be found an important enterprise, responsible for the manufacture of a wide variety of products and medicines and employing local labour: The Pernambuco State Pharmaceutical Laboratory (LAFEPE).
Further along, on Dom Manuel de Medeiros street, there is a modern, arch-shaped building with a football field in front of it: the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco. Its Faculties of Agronomy and Veterinary were founded in 1913, as well as the courses of Fisheries Engineering, Animal Science and others. Among the pavilions of this University, as well as behind them, are cement blocks with bronze plaques, where the graduates pay homage to a several species of trees:
Prosopis juliflora (Mesquite) Agronomic Engineers, 1965;
Cocos nucifera L. (coconut) Agronomic Engineers, 1966;
Licania rígida (Oiticica) Agronomic Engineers, 1969;
Anacardium occidentale L. (cashew) Agronomic Engineers, 1969.
During the government of General Dantas Barreto in 1916, the Zoo/Botanic Garden of Dois Irmãos was inaugurated in the middle of the Atlantic Forest on the lands of Pedra Mole and Riacho da Prata. Near the entrance to the garden, the Museum of Natural Sciences was inaugurated in 1973, which contains more than 2,000 specimens of mammals, reptiles, arthropods, insects, birds, shells, minerals and fossils.
To the left of those who enter the garden, past the Museum of Natural Sciences, an imposing statue can be observed: the Lollipop Seller, made in 1957 by the Pernambuco sculptor Abelardo da Hora.
In addition to several species of mammals, birds and reptiles, the Zoo/Botanic Garden of Dois Irmãos has paddleboats (for people to move about around the pond), carriages (pulled by donkeys) and a little train to take children and adults around the garden, as well as a restaurant and snack bars.
Today, the Botanic Garden represents one of the important tourist attractions in the city of Recife, and it is managed by the Pernambuco Tourism Company – EMPETUR.
Recife, 25 July 2003.
(Updated on 22 November 2007).
Translated by Peter Leamy, October 2016.
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Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Dois Irmãos (bairro, Recife). Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Acesso em: dia mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.