Lat: -10.803222222222000, Long: -37.169641666667000


Sergipe, Brazil

Historical Background and Urbanism

Around 1606, a hamlet associated to a small port built by its inhabitants arose along the River Cotinguiba and became known as “Porto das Laranjeiras” (Port of the Orange-trees). At the end of the Dutch domination of Sergipe (1637-1645), the advantageous location of Porto das Laranjeiras led it to become the centre for colonisation in the region, leading to establishment of the settlement, probably in 1794. Besides the port, its development was driven by a large regional fair held there. In this significant commercial role, Laranjeiras reached its apogee in the 19th century. In 1824, the residents applied for town status, with the justification that their village was the region’s wealthiest and most populated centre. It then counted more than 850 houses, with nearly 60 sugar plantations in the fertile area around the River Cotinguiba. Given such development, Laranjeiras was raised to status of a town in 1832 and became a city in 1848. But it began to decline after slavery was abolished in 1888, and in ten years both population and sugar production had dropped, with consequently less business and port activity, its main sources of wealth. This coincided with Aracaju’s designation as the capital of Sergipe, which drew many families away from Laranjeiras, fleeing the decadence and smallpox that many fell victim to in 1911. The origin of Laranjeiras was associated with the River Cotinguiba, which greatly affected its urban design. The site was surrounded by low hills, with just a small area of level ground. As a result, it developed along two very obvious axes of occupation. Activities linked to the port and fair were established along the first of these axes, defined by the river and accompanying its bend. The second axis (the former Rua Direita do Comércio) was perpendicular to it and ran from Praça da Feira to Praça da Matriz and thence towards Comandaroba, connecting the rural and port areas. The urban fabric resulting from the expansion of Laranjeiras was thus based on those two axes. Streets were parallel, perpendicular or diagonal to them, thus configuring the city’s irregular layout. In the 19th century, all of the flattest space between the river and the hills was occupied. Its appearance also changed along the main streets and squares as old buildings were replaced by large businesses and the imposing sobrado homes of rural landowners, who moved into the city attracted by the better cultural, social and commercial conditions.

Religious Architecture