Trilha en Ponte

Fort Orange was built by the Dutch in the year 1631 on the Island Itamaracá, of the coast of Pernambuco in North-East Brasil. Successful archaeological excavations were held at the site of the fortress from January until April 2002, as the first part of the ‘Fort Orange Project’ under auspices of MOWIC and UFPE and with financial support of the Dutch government. Two month into the project, a bad accident happened to the campaign’s leader, Dr. Marcos Albuquerque, professor of archaeology at the UFPE. As he was exploring the historical and archaeological aspects of the village of Vila Velha, he fell through a rotten shelf of a small, wooden bridge at the mouth of the river Paripeira, leading to the Rio da Santa Cruz, which separates the island from the mainland of Pernambuco. He was not to remain the only victim. In the same week, a four year old boy of the island also fell through the same bridge and, after laying six days in coma in the Hospital Oswaldo Cruz in Recife, had to learn walking again by physiotherapy. This bridge is, in fact, an important item for the inhabitants of the Vila Velha part of Itamaracá, being the connection of this village over the river Paripeira, leading through the mangroves by a footpath to
Fort Orange.

In fact it is the shortest way to Fort Orange, with nearby the beautiful beach (Praia dos holandeses), the famous Sea-cow gardens (Peixe-Boi Marinha), hotels, restaurants, kiosks and shops. The footpath, “trilha” in Portuguese, is an old one, dating from the times that the Island of Itamaracá was part of “Dutch-Brazil”. The bridge, in Portuguese “Portilhão”, is mentioned several times in seventeenth-century maps and reports. And indeed, historically, the “Trilha dos holandeses”, “Path of the Dutchmen”, and the original bridge have been constructed by military experts through the mangrove bushes and the swamps, over the Rio Paripeira, to connect Fort Orange with Vila Velha, conquered by the Dutch in 1633 and at that time called Nossa Senhora de Conceição. Proudly, this name was changed, from then on, into Schoppestad, after the WIC general Sigismund von Schoppe. The Dutch took a great liking to the fertile island of Itamaracá. There were sugar-mills, cattle was raised, and dearly needed vegetables were cultivated.