History – Rua do Bom Jesus

The origin of the city of Recife was its harbor district, taking its name from the reef, which formed a natural wall that served as a port.

Since the time of Dutch occupation, Rua do Bom Jesus was the most important of the Recife neighborhood (yes, of the same name as the city), possibly due to it being a natural route to the road that led travelers to and from Olinda.

Initially, the street became known as Rua do Bode (Bockestraet). During the Dutch rule, it became a favorite of the Israelites and started to be called the Rua dos Judeus. When they left Pernambuco, it was named Rua da Cruz. There are indications that in this period it was also called Rua dos Mercadores, but only in the stretch of road between Rua da Cadeia and Siculé (currently Marques de Olinda and Barbosa Lima, respectively). In 1870,  the City Council approved the name Bom Jesus, proposed by the Institute of Archaeology, History and Geography of Pernambucano. The Rua do Bom Jesus goes from Avenida Marques de Olinda to the Artur Oscar Plaza.

Between 1636 and 1654, the street gave rise to the first synagogue of the Americas – Kahal Zur Israel (Rock of Israel) – located at 197 and 203 Rua do Bom Jesus. An archaeological survey has revealed the original wall of the urban core and the oldest ritual bath pool (micveb or micveh) of the Americas, used by those who attended the synagogue in the seventeenth century. A municipal law made in 1999 transferred the use of buildings to the Israelite Federation of Pernambuco, so that a replica of Zur Israel Synagogue could be created.

At the end of the street stood the Porta da Terra (Lantpoort), one of the city gates in the Dutch period. At the site, on January 26, 1654, the Flemish government surrendered. This gate became the Arc de Bom Jesus and was demolished by “demands of transit” in 1850.

On Rua do Bom Jesus, ran the traditional Botija Francesa, founded in 1821, the Chilean Café, a meeting place for important people, and the European Hotel and Restaurant, which was a great success.

A project to revitalize the Recife neighborhood restored the existing houses in the area, highlighting the details of the façades in eclectic style, transforming the street of Bom Jesus and the streets around the venue in Recife as a meeting point for locals and tourists.

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Rua do Bom Jesus, Recife, PE. Pesquisa Escolar online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife.


Further research (in PT)
NYT article on the synagogue


4 responses to “History – Rua do Bom Jesus

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