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Madalena Market

Madalena Market is situated at 270 Real da Torre St, with its construction beginning on 6 February 1925. Inaugurated on 19 October that same year.

Madalena Market

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Last update: 30/03/2020

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

The Madalena neighbourhood possesses important historical relevance, having been a profitable sugarcane zone in early Recife. The land was given by Duarte Coelho to Jerônimo de Albuquerque, his brother-in-law. After his death, it was divided among his sons. Later, Pedro Afonso Duro, married to Madalena Gonçalves Furtado, acquired one of these parts, setting up an animal-powered sugarcane factory. Built on the property was the Sobrado Grande de João Alfredo (the plantation’s manor house), which became known as the Passagem de Dona Madalena (Mrs Madalena’s Rest Stop).

Madalena Market is situated at 270 Real da Torre St, with its construction beginning on 6 February 1925. Inaugurated on 19 October that same year, by Governor Sérgio Loreto, it was a meeting point for market sellers who dealt with fruit and vegetables without interference from authorities at the time. As it operated at night, it was called “Mercado do Bacurau” (“Nighthawk Market” – a nocturnal bird).

traders, bohemians used to frequent the market as it was a vibrant spot on provincial Recife nights. On weekends, the busiest time occurred during the day, with the selling of traditional food, like ‘munguzá’ (corn with coconut milk), tapioca, cuscus with coffee and ‘sarapatel’ (pigs’ offal cooked in blood) being the mainstays.

Originally there were only stalls on the outer part of the Market. Fruits and vegetables were sold in the centre, on large rocks in covered areas. Later there was an expansion of the spaces, replacing the rocks with stalls. In its south wing, a cooperative began to operate, which acquired products from the interior of the state.

Today there are 180 stalls, housed in 980m2 of constructed area. The space where the Market Administration operates retains its original structure. Only the ground level where the bathrooms and warehouse were situated has been altered.

In 1960 its floor was reformed. Around 1982, an important restoration took place, when a coat-of-arms on its frontispiece was discovered by historian Vanildo Bezerra Cavalcanti, a bohemian and admirer of the Market, who, after carrying out patient research, asserted that it was the coat-of-arms of the city of Recife. Carefully restored, it can be seen today on the building’s façade.

In the stalls, fruit, greens, vegetables, grains, meat and fish are sold. There are also some services: barber’s, sewing and shoes. Next to the market is the traditional Bird Market, sanctioned and regulated by IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Natural Renewable Resources) since 1997.

The Market is still the meeting-place of bohemians. Its Gastronomic Space is being reformed and is known for its cuscus with stewed goat, ‘sarapatel’, ‘cabidela’ chicken (cooked in its own blood), ‘buchada’ (a type of goat haggis) and other traditional dishes from Pernambuco cuisine. It is open Monday to Saturday, from 6am to 5:30pm, and on Sundays from 6am to noon.

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.
Recife, 31 October de 2006.
(Updated on 31 August 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, December 2011.

sources consulted

UM PEDAÇO da história do Recife. Informativo dos mercados, Recife, ano 1, n.1, [p. 1], dez. 2006.

MERCADOS. Disponível em: . Acesso em: 20 out. 2006.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Madalena Market. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009