Manaus is the capital of the largest Brazilian state, the Amazon. It was almost inexistent on the map until the Europeans decide to use the latex extracted from rubber trees in their industries. It was during this period that the state of Amazon started to live a moment of great economic importance: the cycle of rubber.
Its population is formed by indigenous and white people which has grown so remarkably that in 1695 the Carmelite missionaries, jointly with the Franciscans, Jesuits and mercenaries (in charge to catechize these people and prevent the wars) decided to build a chapel near the fort of Saint Joseph of Bar of the Black River “São José da Barra do Rio Negro”, which was named the Chapel of Our Lady of Conception, patroness of Manaus.
The Saint John the Baptist Cemetery, is located on the Boulevard Senator Alvaro Maia, in the district of Our Lady of Thanks, Mid-South area. It was inaugurated by the governor Eduardo Gonçalves Ribeiro, during his administration, in a public event, at 4 p.m.on April 5th, 1891. The cemetery has more than 19 thousand graves, and about 80 thousand people buried. The majestic entrance – Avenue Boulevard Alvaro Maia – leads to one of the iron entrance gates with a barrel-vault coverage and scales of cast iron and glass. This vault was installed in 1905, during the administration of Adolpho Guilherme de Miranda Lisboa. It is an impressive architectural complex which was made by the Foundry Walter MacFarlane & Co., Glasgow, Scotland.
1540 – Francisco de Orellana, who came from Peru and wanted to reach Spain, discovered a river that immediately named The Orellana River – “Rio Orellana”, but when he was attacked at the Nhamundá river mouth by a women warriors tribe, he decided to call it The Amazon.“Amazonas”. Even before Orellana navigates through this river, it had already received the name of Amaru Mayu, or “The Serpent Mother of the World.
1600 – The region started to be attacked. The Orellana´s expedition reports attracted interest from the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, English and French.
1616 – The Portuguese try to defend their conquests. They leave Pernambuco, reach the Amazon region, fight against the French who had invaded the coast of Maranhao. At this time, the city of Belém is created where once stood the Fort of the Crèche- “O Forte do Presépio”.
1637 a 1639 – The explorer Pedro Teixeira, who took office in the region on behalf of the Portuguese Crown, left Cametá-Pará with an expedition through the Amazon River up to Iquitos in Peru.
1669 – Creation of the Fort Saint Joseph of the Bar, with the purpose of fighting and exploring the region, and also to ensure the Portuguese area. Around this Fort, it appears the “arraial” (small village) which gave origin to the city of Manaus.
19th Century – The name of the small village was Saint Joseph of the Bar of the Black River “São José da Barra do Rio Preto.
1833 – It gets the category of town with the name of Manaus, which in the native language means “Mother of God,” a tribute to the Manaós tribe.
1848 – It takes the title of city and becomes the capital of the Amazon Province.
1850 – Creation of the province of Amazon, being dismembered from the Grão-Pará, due to the need of a permanent occupation.
1889 – Proclamation of the Republic. The province of Amazon was governed by Dr. Manoel Francisco Machado.
1891 – Inauguration of St. John the Baptist Cemetery on the current Boulevard Senator Alvaro Maia.
1896 – Construction of the Amazon Theater “Teatro Amazonas” by the Captain of Frigate Borges Machado.
1909 – It starts the economic crisis in the region due to the devaluation of rubber.
1967 – Creation of the free zone in Manaus. For half a century, the city has suffered with the decline of rubber, caused by competition in Asia. The solution to that regional development was the continued free zone. Manaus won a very large tourist flow and hotels are built to provide an infrastructure of service to tourists.
1976 – The international airport was inaugurated and inserted Manaus on the route of world tourism.
2005 – It was created the project Concert in Memory – “Concerto em Memória” in St. John the Baptist Cemetery, to celebrate the centenary of the portico and the chapel.
The neighborhood Our Lady of Thanks became a reference in the city of Manaus due to the existence of the Municipal Cemetery of St. John the Baptist. The cemetery follows a standard plant model composed of aligned and sequenced blocks. In its flat topography it groups funerary monuments in marble, dating from the 19th and 20th centuries, and also a series of chapel-tombs, eclectic and modern models. Many graves were imported from Europe thanks to the money that came from the extraction of rubber.
Among the illustrious personalities in St. John the Baptist Cemetery, there are the families of Dr. Aprígio Martins de Menezes, Colonel Jose Coelho de Miranda Leão and Eduardo Ribeiro. It is important to highlight the collective Masonic mausoleums.
This conventional secularized cemetery has the peculiarity to spread within its area tropical trees and pines. It is known that the pines are not consistent with the warm climate of the city, however, they have a special meaning for the cemetery – symbolize the tree of life. The cemetery still preserves some of the 19th century luminaries, made of cast iron, art nouveau style.
BORGES, Maria Elizia. Funerary Art In Brazil (1880-1930). Italian Marble Craft in Ribeirão Preto. Belo Horizonte: C/ Arte, 2002.
Cupper, Maria Thereza. The City of the Dead: looking at the everyday landscape of the cemetery of St. John the Baptist. Manaus. Research Project, 2006.