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Imbiribeira (neighbourhood, Recife)

The name imbiribeira was given to a large tree in Brazilian flora from the myrtaceae family – the imbiriba.

Imbiribeira (neighbourhood, Recife)

Article available in: PT-BR

Last update: 07/02/2017

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - N/I

It is difficult to write about the Imbiribeira without first talking about the old Barreta Farm: their existences are intertwined. There were several historical battles there during the restoration campaign (1645-1654). At the time of the Dutch invasion, a document recorded: the encounters and combats took place in Afogados, passed through the Barreta and Imbiribeira Farms, and reached the Guararapes mountains (located in Estancia da Barreta).

In 1630, there was a warehouse for sugar storage and shipping, as well as for other goods that passed along the Barreta River. This river was formed by the waters of the sea and the Jordão River, and had its source at the base of the Guararapes Mountains.

Over time, in addition to Passo da Barreta, the locality was called Estância da Barreta [Barreta Holding], Sítio da Barreta [Barreta Farm], Estrada da Barreta [Barreta Road] and then only Barreta. It was located next to the mouth of the south arm of the Capibaribe River, went around Nogueira Island and emptied in the port, close to the south of the Fort of Five Points.

History says that the Dutch confiscated “the Barreta Passage between Recife and Cabo”. Considered an important strategic point, the Dutch built a Fort there that they called Schoonenburgh. It was also via Estrada da Barreta that the Batavian army marched towards the Guararapes Mountains, before suffering their final defeat.

After the expulsion of the Dutch, the property returned to the Portuguese royal family. The lands extended to the south of Recife along the coast, from Afogados to Boa Viagem. As it was very extensive, the passage began to be split up into large farms and localities. General André Vidal de Negreiros himself claimed to have “some land in Barreta”, leaving them as an inheritance for a goddaughter in his will of 1678.

At the end of the 17th century, part of these lands became possessed by the Jesuit priests of Recife. Several buildings were built there: a decent villa house, a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and slave quarters. In addition, an orchard and a large coconut grove were planted. The property was run by a manager, produced a good income and also served as a recreational space for priests.

Regarding the recreational space, however, several denunciations were made concerning the breaking of celibacy on the part of the priests. According to the statements of a Jesuit, the place functioned as a meeting point for the priests. In particular, the rector of a Recife school – the well-known priest José Aires – was mentioned, whose lovers he himself brought to the lands of Barreta, riding pillion on his horse.

The last news about the property dates from 1837: the Barreta Passage was an important cattle farm and plantation belonging to Inacia Maria Xavier and her children.

Part of the territory of the former Barreta property received the name of Imbiribeira, in turn. This locality extended from the Motocolombó Bridge in the extreme south of the settlement of Afogados to the limits of Boa Viagem, and the road to the west.

In the second half of the 17th century, the word Imbiribeira is used in a letter that mentions the services provided by the helper Fernão de Sousa in battles against the Dutch in Afogados on the Imbiribeira Farm. Another reference to the locality comes from 18 January 1669: an account of the military services of Captain Alexandre Cardoso, recording his participation in a battle at Estância da Imbiribeira.

The name imbiribeira was given to a large tree in Brazilian flora from the myrtaceae family – the imbiriba – whose wood (red or black) is used as slats for manufacturing house roofs. The word is indigenous, originating from two distinct words: eimbir, meaning to tear, to flake; and yb, taken from its wood, torn into strips, suitable for the extraction of slats.

On 1 September 1852, in a place on the locality called Piranga, the murder of a young woman by her own mother occurred. The mother served her time and died in the prison of Fernando de Noronha. What happened is documented:

Maria de Albuquerque Maranhão, 48 years old, a native of Pernambuco, a widow, farm worker, white, short, with straight hair, a long face, small brown eyes, knows how to read and write. She was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Jury of Recife on 19 March 1853 for the crime of murder, arriving in this prison on 6 March 1854, and died on 10 January 1883, always accompanied by her ex-slave Julião, agent of the crime for which she was sentenced. She died a widow.

In 1836, the first part of the Imbiribeira Road was constructed, with about one kilometre in length, giving rise to a small town. In addition, a chapel was erected under the invocation of Our Lady of the Rosary, 75 palms wide and 900 deep.

On a plot in Imbiribeira donated by Colonel Manuel Tomás de Albuquerque Maranhão, a gunpowder vault surrounded by a high masonry wall, a guardhouse, and another structure connected to it as the official-commander’s residence were built. The property had a good well, a vegetable garden, an orchard and a large yard.

Some executions in Imbiribeira entered the Brazilian history: it was the Revolt of the Armada, which broke out in Guanabara Bay on 6 September 1893.

In the first conviction on 22 November 1893, five seamen of the cruiser Parnaíba, which was anchored in the port of Recife, were executed for alleged conspiracy. The trial was carried out by a secret council composed of naval officers, without the presence of an auditor, behind closed doors in the attic of the Rua da Aurora street headquarters.

During the actual trial, a quick interrogation was carried out on the presumed conspiracy, and the sentence was given without evidence and without the arrested sailors admitting to have participated in the crime.

At two o’clock in the morning, escorted by 20 infantry and four cavalry squads with their hands tied behind their backs, the condemned set off for Imbiribeira. Behind them followed a battalion cart carrying shovels and hoes, intended for digging a ditch to bury the bodies after the execution.

The squads dug the ditch in the presence of the victims. At dawn, an officer asks the condemned if they have any last words. Receiving a negative answer once again, the execution was ordered: an accurate shot to the chest of each sailor. As if that were not enough, a mercy shot was given into the ear of each of them. Then the dead were thrown into the common grave.

The second condemnatory act that entered into history occurred in the early hours of 14 January 1894: the execution of the Pernambuco man Silvino de Macedo, accused of leading the revolt of Fort Santa Cruz in Rio de Janeiro (in 1892) and also of being committed to the revolt of the squadron.

At the end of the 19th century, generals made decisions to suit themselves: unlimited terror prevailed, arrests and executions were made with the greatest ease, and the population lived under a constant state of siege without constitutional guarantees. Unsurprisingly, in such an environment of terror, newspapers in Pernambuco did not report the six executions in Imbiribeira.

However, an anonymous letter (from Recife) arrived at the editorial office of the newspaper O Democrata, printed in the State of Pará. On 13 February 1894, the newspaper published the message it received, which ends with the following words:

Silvino de Macedo, this crystal soul with the strength of steel, sacrificing himself for an idea, dying courageously for a principle, was a man of rare bravery, a true hero, one of those immortal dead, who for his amazing feats will be inscribed in the enlightened gallery of glory.

Hail, a thousand times hail, oh! A great citizen who fell into the vortex of the sepulcher with his forehead haloed by the crown of martyrdom, teaching the despots with his incomparable example that the Pernambuco dignity has not disappeared yet, and that if this land has in its bosom a handful of villains who cynically bow to tyranny, exchanging their dignity, shame and conscience for a piece of gold, counting also children like you, who face all the dangers without care, and who know how to give their lives to a holocaust for the cause of the country and for freedom.

The historical executions were detailed and analysed in a monograph printed in Pernambuco in 1906 and defended by Dr Vicente Ferrer de B. W. Araújo, entitled The Execution of Silvino de Macedo – a critical and historical study.

Due to the generosity and initiative of Dr Vicente Ferrer, it was even possible for the mortal remains of the executed to be placed in a mausoleum in the Afogados parish church. Without making any judgment on what had happened, on a marble slab on the mausoleum was engraved only:

Perpetuous remains of the Imbiribeira marines, Guardião Manuel Pacheco, João Batista de Oliveira, Eusébio Atanásio, Américo Virgílio, Inácio Antônio Quaty (16 years old) from Pernambuco, former sergeant Silvino de Macedo, 14 January 1894.

Today Imbiribeira is cut by the extensive Avenida Mascarenhas de Morais – a tribute to the commander of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB) of World War II.

In the neighbourhood is a natural lagoon – Lagoa de Araçá – and an ecological park, located in the former Sítio do Araçá, with 12 hectares and two forests. In addition to this, close to the old warehouse, only the ruins of the house that served as the stage for the 1852 homicide can be seen.

In the late 1960s, one of the largest sports gyms in the Northeast was built on Avenida Mascarenhas de Morais: the Geraldo Magalhães Sports Gymnasium, known by everyone as Geraldão. In this gym, besides sporting competitions, there are usually shows by national and international artists, as well as important events.


Recife, 24 July 2003.
(Updated on 29 January 2008).
Translated by Peter Leamy, December 2016.Recife, 24 de julho de 2003.
(Texto atualizado em 29 de janeiro de 2008).

sources consulted

CAVALCANTI, Carlos Bezerra. O Recife e os seus bairros. Recife: Câmara Municipal do Recife, 1998. 

COSTA, F. A. Pereira da. Arredores do Recife. Recife: Fundação de Cultura Cidade do Recife, 1981.

______. ______. Recife: Fundaj, Editora Massangana, 2001.

FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife. Recife: Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1977. 

GALVÃO, Sebastião de Vasconcellos. Diccionario chorografico, histórico e estatístico de Pernambuco. Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, 1908. 4v.

how to quote this text

Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Imbiribeira (bairro, Recife). Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <https://pesquisaescolar.fundaj.gov.br/en/>. Acesso em:dia  mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.