In the port of Recife is a square that was once called “Volunteers of the Homeland”, “Arsenal of the Navy”, and today is called Praça Artur Oscar in honour of one of the generals who commanded the Canudos campaign. It is precisely in this square, in the Recife neighbourhood near the port, that Malakoff Tower stands out, a monument that is part of the city’s historical and tourist heritage.
The tower, built in an eastern (Tunisian) style, was thus named for its resemblance to a fortification on the Crimean peninsula, which functioned as the defence centre of Sevastopol in 1855. In this sense, it should be clarified that the Crimean war was fought in the 19th century (from 1854 to 1855) between the Russia of Tsar Nicholas I, on the one hand, and France, Turkey, England and Piedmont on the other. The Malakoff Tower of Sevastopol was overrun by MacMahon, giving the Allies victory in the battle.
The Recife tower has a white quadrangular minaret, a clock, a small dome, battlements on its corners, and some narrow windows painted in blue. The monument served for many years as an astronomical observatory and the seat of the Captaincy of the Ports in Pernambuco. There is a large iron gate in it with the date of 1853 engraved, and a shield above the gate reads 1855.
In the 1920s, several journalists led by Mario Melo fought to preserve the monument, preventing the Federal Government from demolishing it. Coincidentally, from the place where today is the bust of the celebrated intellectual, on the avenue that bears his name, you can see the imponent Malakoff Tower in the distance.
Recife, 14 November 2003.
Translated by Peter Leamy, December 2016.
CAVALCANTI, Carlos Bezerra. O Recife e seus bairros. Recife: Câmara Municipal do Recife, 1998.
FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife. Recife: Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1977.
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Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Torre Malakoff. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <https://pesquisaescolar.fundaj.gov.br/en/>. Acesso em: dia mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009