History - Morro de São Paulo, Bahia
The history of Morro de São Paulo is so old that it intermingles with the history of Brazil.
Martin Afonso de Souza landed on the island in 1531 leading an expedition to explore the entire coastline. Under the jurisdiction of the São Jorge dos Ilhéus Captaincy, Jorge de Figueiredo Correa received the property from D. João III, and designated the Spanish lieutenant Francisco Romero to colonize the lands. On June 29, 1535, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s day, the village was founded and baptized with the name of Morro de São Paulo (St. Paul’s Hill). Thus, the first village of the Ilhéus Captaincy was born. In 1610, the Saraiva Goes family began construction of the Nossa Senhora da Luz church, where the lighthouse is today.
Due to its location in a privileged area, the region was the setting of various attacks by French and Dutch squadrons, a veritable free zone for pirates during the colonial period. Construction of the Morro de São Paulo Fort began in 1630, and the work extended until 1739, with various stages of expansion. In 1750, there were 51 pieces of artillery spread along its 765- yard wall, held by 183 men, but in 1774, a large part of the fort was destroyed by a storm.
In 1746, work was begun on the Fonte Grande, for treating the water of the village’s population.
The Napoleonic wars made the Portuguese court take refuge in Brazil, but their settling in Rio de Janeiro caused much discontent in Bahia and throughout Northeastern Brazil, which entered into an era of decline. The result of this situation was that D. Pedro proclaimed Brazil’s independence in 1822, fearing that someone would do it before him, becoming the first Emperor of Brazil.
In 1823, Lord Thomas Cochrane established the first Brazilian squadron base in Morro de São Paulo, fighting for Brazilian independence, which was accomplished with the expulsion of the Portuguese from Salvador, on July 2. In this fight, much of the arsenal of Morro was transferred to the capital.
In 1855, construction of the current Lighthouse began, and in 1859, D. Pedro II visited Morro de São Paulo.
In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio Summit) took place in Rio de Janeiro, and had an impact on the archipelago, with the decree that the Tinharé and Boipeba Islands were an Environmental Protection Area.
The island, somewhat outside Brazil’s political and economic upheavals of the last few decades, began to receive tourists from all over the world, who take away memories of a heavenly island, which, despite having been at the center of many events in our history, bravely resists with its natural beauty and the serene pace of the islanders.