Aracaju is the capital of Sergipe, the smallest Brazilian State by area. The name Aracaju is of indian origin. "Ara" is macaw, and "caju" is cashew, a native fruit from Brazil. Aracaju is a place where used to abund macaws and cashew trees.
Aracaju was founded in 1855. It is a planned city, designed to be the new capital of Sergipe, in replacement of the old capital, São Cristovao. The city was built near the estuary of River Sergipe.
Aracaju has its place on the nation's tourism route with attractions that include a revitalized shoreline, with catamarans - boats with special hulls for sailing in calm water - to explore the city's numerous mango groves, rivers and beaches.
On the seaside, it has beautiful beaches, such as Atalaia Nova on Santa Luzia island, and the continent beach Robalo. The city offers sailings, museums and an oceanarium. Near, there is a Projeto Tamar (Tamar Project) base, an entity that aims the sea turtles preservation. There are several restaurants that serve the most typical dish of the region - the salted meat (a Brazilian version of jerked beef).
With its typically colonial layout, Aracaju offers examples of refined architecture, such as that of the Catedral Metropolitana, which took thirteen years to finish. Completed in 1875, the Cathedral houses a series of neo-classical paintings including one of Our Lady of the Conception. Built at the same time as the city, the church of São Salvador, the first parish church in Aracaju, also bears traces of the architecture of that period.
Another of the city's attractions is the Emperor's Bridge which was commissioned in 1860 for the visit of Emperor Pedro II; built over the River Sergipe, the bridge in fact leads nowhere but is used as a viewpoint.
Important museus in Aracaju are the Museum of History and Geography, with a display of igaçabas (indian funeral urns), the skeleton of a giant sloth and a large collection of fossils, and the Sergipe Memorial, which preserves the History of Sergipe.
The mangroves area around the river Sergipe are big producers of crabs (even though uncontrolled exploration had been decreasing production every year). Crabs can be tasted at the Passarela do Caranguejo (Crabs Runway), a grooving place that concentrates bars in front of the sea.
Also by the sea is the Parque dos Cajueiros, a reserve covering an area of 74,000 m2, with easy access to soccer pitches, tennis and volleyball courts, a children's play area, a miniature city, bars, restaurants and kiosks, as well as a water complex with three swimming pools and a water-toboggan with a 20 metre drop.
By night, beside the kioskes along the beach, visitors can enjoy one of the biggest show houses in Brazilian northeast, the Augustus Colosseo, with a varied schedule of regional and national performers.
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