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Município e Capital Federal de Castelonovo
Municipality and Federal Capital of Castelonovo
Following down left to right: financial centre; Bachelet Building; the city's cathedral; Museum of Arts of Castelonovo; Mascarenhas Palace and the Guararapes' Valley.
Following down left to right: financial centre; Bachelet Building; the city's cathedral; Museum of Arts of Castelonovo; Mascarenhas Palace and the Guararapes' Valley.
Bandeira de Olinda.png
Brasão de Olinda PE.png
Coat of arms
Terra de Oportunidades
(Land of Opportunities);

Selva de Pedra
(Stone's Jungle)
Semper invicta
"Always undefeated"
Country Belmonte
ProvinceFederal Capital
Foundation19 May 1544
 • TypeMayor-council
 • BodyMunicipal Chamber
 • MayorJúlio Passos
 • Vice MayorCatarina Beltrão
 • Total3,724,976
Time zoneBCT
Area code(s)CST (11)

Castelonovo ([kɐstʃelɔnovo]), officially the Municipality and Federal Capital of Castelonovo (Iustian: Município e Capital Federal de Castelonovo), is the capital and largest city of Belmonte. According to the last demographic census made in 2018, the general population of the city and its metropolitan area corresponds to 3,724,976 inhabitants.

Founded by bandeirantes in the 16th century, Castelonovo was located between several trade routes that transported goods to villages and markets, which made the small city become within a few years an important commercial centre to the colony. Also, the rough terrain was frequently used as a natural barrier against indigenous attacks, which was another decisive factor for the upcoming centralization and transference of various public services and institutions that were formerly situated in several coastal cities to there. Soon after the Belmontese independence, the city already was the most important of the entire country, but it only became the national capital and its own province after the establishment of the republic in 1819.

With the advent of the industrial revolution, the city had one of the largest growth rates in Belmonte, with several roads and railways being built and used to connect other major cities at the same time that thousands of farmers and former slaves came to work in the new factories. In the 20th century, Castelonovo was hit with another rural exodus and political and economical instabilities, being at the centre of protests, general strikes and battles. During the Great War, the city was invaded, bombed and occupied by Entente forces until being liberated by resistance troops in the Spring March. After the war, the city was undergone through various revitalization and modernization programs and expanded considerably.

Today, Castelonovo is one of the most important cities of the Asterias, since it is the political, administrative, financial and cultural centre of Belmonte where the majority of governmental institutions, banks, embassies, agencies and organizations are situated, with its name being used as a metonymy for the Federal Government as well. The city is also a cosmopolitan one, with several inhabitants coming from different regions and countries around the globe. Despite having one of the highest GDP and HDI of Belmonte, Castelonovo suffers from several social and urban problems such as high traffic, poverty, crime and pollution.


The name Castelonovo comes from the junction of the words castelo and novo, which means “castle” and “new” respectively, therefore meaning a new castle. Before the arrival of colonists in the region, natives called the place as Guyraoga, “bird’s home”, name which was also used by the first bandeirantes that started to settle there in the 16th century. With the definitive foundation of the city, Castelonovo had its first name officialized as Castle of Saint Peter of Guyraoga and, after a fire years later, it has its name reduced to Castelonovo only.


Foundation and colonial era

Foundation of Castelonovo, by Inácio Leitão
Federalist troops entering the city after their victory in the Federalist Revolt.
The city centre in 1969.

Castelonovo was founded on 19 May 1544 by bandeirantes and jesuits from an expedition that started at the village of Pinheiros years before, with the group being led by the priests João Paes and Augusto Linhares, who built a church and the first buildings of the new settlement. Prior to the Iustian arrival, the region was widely populated by Tupi tribes located next to the ground zero of the city who had maintained relatively positive relations with the settlers. Due to its rough terrain, the village was saved from various attacks from other tribes, which made possible the expansion of jesuit activities in the region such as the conversion of natives to Catholicism, however, in 1568, a big fire caused by uncertain reasons destroyed the entire village and killed the majority of its citizens.

Although being left abandoned for almost two years, the village was rebuilt thanks to jesuit efforts with a new convent as well to intensify conversion activities in the area, attracting neighbouring farmers and old dwellers. Also, yet in the 16th century, the city gained a strategical meaning since it started to be used as a base for other bandeirante expeditions, which contributed to its fast reconstruction and expansion in the following years.

At the end of the colonial period, the city drastically grew as trade routes maintained by tropeiros crossed the city, transporting goods, food and letters to other cities and villages from several captaincies. Another important factor which led to its fast growth in importance and relevance was its geographic localization at the centre of Belmonte as well as its natural defences, resulting in the transference of various institutions and public services to the city followed by the fixation of the local elites that previously lived in other places, consequently causing the construction of new infrastructure and upper-class buildings based around the Euclean architecture of the time. Over the 17th and 18th centuries, streets were expanded and most of the central zones were rebuilt to accommodate the new elite whilst many citizens moved to peripheral regions and built the first tenements.

As an important social and academic centre, Castelonovo was, among Guanabara and Riachuelo, the home for several philosophers and politicians present at the fight for the independence of Belmonte. In the Asterian War of Secession, the city was the stage of various mobilizations favourable to the independence and performed a relevant perfomance throughout the war, which increased its decree of importance in the national sphere.

Confederation and Republic

Despite being speculated to be the capital of Belmonte after the end of the conflict, the establishment of a confederation discarded this idea, with the new government led by Sebastião Mascarenhas opting a transferable capital instead of a fixed one. Anyway, Castelonovo still remained the most important city in the entire country.

With the proclamation of the republic, Castelonovo officially became the capital of Belmonte, which entailed the centralization of more services, the transference of public institutions and the migration of people coming from several parts of the country, resulting in a fast expansion within years. After the Belmontese Revolution in 1836 and the arrival of the industrial revolution, the city become the seat of the first factories, with thousands of former slaves from other cities and immigrants coming to work there, which led to the construction of the first railways in the 1850s as well as the creation of the first favelas.

At the beginning of the 20th century, however, the city couldn’t sustain anymore the huge influx of new inhabitants, leading to a huge increase in poverty and criminality, subsequently causing an expansion in the creation of favelas and making several newspapers such as Diário labelling Castelonovo as the “most decadent city of the Asterias.” The situation became worse after the Great Collapse, with protests and conflicts with the police happening on a daily basis. During the General Strike of 1916, thousands were imprisoned and several dead, resulting in violent protests for the next years. After a brief period of stability, the city suffered devastating attacks in the Great War and was occupied by Entente forces from Nuvania and Satucin until being liberated by the Belmontese Resistance in the Spring March.

Post-war era

After the war, Castelonovo was undergone an intense work of reconstruction, especially during the office of the mayors Adão Pires and Fabrício Rocha with the support of the federal government. Several boroughs were rebuilt, precarious zones were demolished and the first motorways were inaugurated in the 40s and 50s, with the city recovering its old number of inhabitants and growing exponentially. In 2020, the city already counted almost four million citizens and is considered to be the economic, political and social centre of Belmonte.

Castelonovo in the 90s.


Castelonovo is the biggest city of Belmonte both in population and area, having 3,724,976 inhabitants within its urban perimeter at the same time that is the largest metropolitan region of the country thanks to an intense conurbation process that happened soon after the end of the Great War and intensified in the 50s, 60s and 70s, but rapidly decreased in the 90s and 2000s which also led to a decrease in the population growth rate as well.

The city’s terrain was always known for being very irregular, being at an average of 400 metres (1312,34 ft) above sea level in the Belmontese Highlands and having as its highest point the Mount Veras in the southern zone at 876 metres (2874,02 ft). Castelonovo is crossed by the Santa Maria River, which is also used as a source of hydric supply to the city. Since it’s located in a highland region, the city has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with dry winters and rainy summers. The hottest month is February while the coldest month is July, and the lowest temperature ever registered was -2,7 C° (27,14 F°) in the night of 18 June 1983, with the highest one being 38,1 C° (100,58 F°) on 23 January 2001.

Climate data for Castelonovo, Belmonte
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 30.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 27.7
Average low °C (°F) 24.9
Precipitation mm (inches) 293
Avg. precipitation days 19 18 18 13 12 10 07 11 12 13 17 18 168
Source: Belmontese Meteorological Service


Currently, there’s 47 parks and one reserve in Castelonovo, the majority of them created as an effort to contain pollution, with the largest one being the Ibipeba Park which was officially established in 1922 and became the city's postcard since then. Furthermore, in 1993, it was instituted by the government and the city hall a green belt around the metropolitan zone with the purpose of reducing the damage caused by the local fauna and flora. Other famous parks are the Galisteu, Apollo and Vandré Park and the Republic’s Square, located at the southern and central zones of the city, respectively.


Júlio Passos, Mayor of Castelonovo since 2016.

Due to its status as the federal capital, Castelonovo has its own legislation and institutions when compared to other national subdivisions in a unique condition present in Belmonte since, despite being categorized as a province, it has the same offices and roles of a common municipality. The city also has, like the majority of other towns, a Municipal Charter (Carta Municipal) under a mayor-council system that acts as a Carta Magna instead of a provincial constitution. It’s the responsibility of the city’s government to provide the creation and maintenance of public services such as healthcare, education, security, basic sanitation and transport together with private initiative and with the support of the federal government as well. Also, the local government maintains five municipal taxes and a series of state-owned companies and agencies that take care of other daily activities, being the most relevant ones the Municipal Transit Authority, the Municipal Public Maintenance Service and the Civil Guard.

The executive is formed by the Mayor (Prefeito), not a governor, which is in the majority of the cases the leader of the party with the biggest number of seats in the municipal chamber. Despite elections taking place every four years, the mayor could stay in the office indefinitely as long as it has parliamentary support. Since 2016, the current mayor of Castelonovo is Júlio Passos, from the Social Democratic Party, who has as its vice mayor Catarina Beltrão from the Socialist Bloc.

The legislative power is vested in the Municipal Chamber of Castelonovo (Câmara Municipal de Castelonovo), which is constituted of 50 councillors (vereadores) for a renewable term of 4 years. As the city’s legislature, it’s one of the responsibilities of the chamber to suggest, debate and approve laws and budgets. Currently, the Social Democratic Party and the Socialist Bloc comprises a coalition government with 19 and 16 councillors respectively, while the largest opposition party, the National Conservative Union, is the second largest bench of the house with 11 councillors. The judiciary power is made by the Justice Court of Castelonovo (Tribunal de Justiça de Castelonovo), which deals with both legal cases that are considered illegal by municipal legislation and criminal ones, while the city’s parquet is in charge of representing citizens in judicial proceedings.

Castelonovo is officially divided in 16 boroughs (bairros), which in turn are organized into five regions: North, South, East, West and Centre. The boroughs and its regions exert few practical political powers, being used only for organizational criteria and to the distribution of public expenditure.

Law enforcement

Law enforcement in Castelonovo is made by the city’s Civil Guard (Guarda Civil), that currently is composed of 26 thousand officers. Statistically, the city maintains one of the lowest criminality rates of Belmonte, with 2019 registering 13,8 homicides per 100 thousand inhabitants. However, when compared to other international parameters, the city still remains very violent, especially in suburban areas and favelas.


The Castelonovo Stock Exchange, one of the biggest in Asteria.

Castelonovo is a global city and the financial and economic centre of Belmonte, having the biggest GDP of the country and one of the biggest of Asteria Inferior. According to the last census realized by the Bank of Belmonte in 2019, around a quarter of the national Gross Domestic Product comes from the city’s economic activities, and has situated there the Castelonovo Stock Market, which is one of the biggest and most important stock markets of the region. The city also is the headquarters of several banks that are both domestic and foreign, multinational companies and monetary agencies that belongs to the municipal and federal government, with most of these institutions being situated at the city’s centre, more specifically at the Augusta Ave. Furthermore, Castelonovo is the city with the biggest number of millionaires and billionaires in Belmonte, and has one of the highest living rates of the country, being followed by Guanabara, Riachuelo and Julianópolis, respectively.

Since the start of the industrial revolution, Castelonovo was the home of the first factories in the 1840s and 1850s, where the majority of them were focused on the production of alimentary goods that had its raw material coming from the local agriculture. With the increase of manpower and consequently of the city, industries started to diversify their productions yet at the end of the 19th century, when they started to produce more varied goods such as clothes and other products. In the 1900s, a few years before the start of the economic decadence caused by the Great Collapse, the city was the most industrialized of Belmonte, having thousands of new workers and factories every year. With the economic crisis, industrial development started to decrease drastically until being almost completely gone during the Entente occupation of the city in the Great War. After the Spring March, the city’s economy was rebuilt around the tertiary field, with popular commerce as well as retail and the financial sector becoming the most predominant economic activities.

Besides the commercial and banking sector, the tourism also is one of the biggest economic activities of the capital, with millions of tourists around the world, the majority of them coming from countries such as Nuvania, Satucin, Halland and Aucuria, generating billions of cruzados in profit while visiting museums, galleries, exhibitions, theatres, markets, cinemas and other touristic points and events of the city. Castelonovo also has an intense nightlife, comprised of various pubs and restaurants which are majoritarily located in the boroughs of Regina and Guararapes.

Despite being considered to be the centre of a major part of the national wealth, Castelonovo also suffers from high rates of poverty and extreme poverty, that has been growing in the past 15 years even with high efforts from the government to contain it. According to information released by the own local government, around 24% of the city’s citizens lives below the poverty line, while 6% of inhabitants live with less than ₡10,00 per day. Because of that, the city has 234 favelas that are inhabited by almost a third of the population.

The financial centre's skyline.


A bus terminal.

Castelonovo presents one of the largest and most interconnected systems of public transport in Belmonte, having as the two most important and most used means the bus and rail system, which are used by millions of passengers every day. Several enterprises and consortiums, both public and private, are in charge for the expansion and maintenance of this system, with some privatizations happening in the early 2000s as a way to decrease public spending, but that was halted after the return of the social democrats in the government in 2012. Currently, the Metropolitan Company of Urban Transports, the Municipal Railway Corporation and the Metropolitan of Castelonovo are the companies that hold most of the public transport system and are guided by the rules issued by the Municipal Transit Authority.

The bus fleet of the capital is the biggest of country and despite a great part of these are moved by diesel engines, there is municipal efforts to expand and integrate the number of electric buses, that already are the majority in central lines, and biomass ones, especially in the last years. The biggest bus terminal in the city is the Bus Terminal of Castelonovo, which is located at the Guararapes borough in the central zone and receives millions of passengers annually. Other terminals with a high influx of people are the terminals of Vila Aurora and Ó, with both of them being located in the southern and northern zones respectively. The city also has a great fleet of taxis and, ultimately, from app cars too.

The Castelonovo Metropolitan, the largest metropolitan service of Belmonte.

The city has 289 kilometres (179 miles) of metropolitan and railway transport, with 68 (42 miles) of them being administered by the Metropolitan of Castelonovo while the remaining tracks belongs to the Municipal Railway Corporation and the Belmontese Railways, which connects the city with other places throughout the country. Today, the metro has 4 lines that cross the city from north to south whilst trains offer services to more peripheral areas, with both services being highly interconnected and transporting around 1 million people daily while more lines are under construction to being released in the upcoming years.

The federal capital also was a pioneer in the Belmontese aviation and currently it’s served by two major airports: the Augusto Cintra-Castelonovo International Airport (CAS), that was one of the first airports to be founded in the country in 1943 and is located in the southeastern zone of the city, and the Jequitibonha Airport (JQT), which begun its activities in 2003 and is located at the northern zone, being created primarily to reduce air traffic and redirect smaller flights to there. Also, there is another airport in the metropolitan regions, the Paquetá Airport, which is exclusive only to helicopters and smaller planes. All of them are state-owned and under the propriety of the federal government.


Ethnic groups in Castelonovo (2017)

  White (44.3%)
  Pardo (44.1%)
  Black (9.8%)
  Coian (1.3%)
  Indigenous (0.5%)

Religion in Castelonovo (2017)

  Catholicism (62.7%)
  Amendism (19.9%)
  Irreligious (9.3%)
  Spiritism (4.6%)
  Other (3.5%)

For many years, Castelonovo was the city that most grew in the country due to a series of factors. In the colonial period, various farmers and urban citizens went to the city soon after the centralization of services and activities there, with its rural exodus intensifying even more with the proclamation of the republic and the establishment of the city as the national capital. After the Belmontese Revolution in the 1830s, Castelonovo had a population of around 200 thousand inhabitants but, with the start of the industrial revolution in the city, this number went to 570 thousand in 1870. Besides internal immigrants coming from other cities, Castelonovo also received immigrants from other countries, especially from Caldia, Emessa, Werania, Etruria and Auratia, with Poveglians founding settlements of considerable sizes yet in the 17th century. The city’s growth and its immigration rates decreased drastically with the start of the Great Collapse, political instabilities and the Great War, however, the population started to increase again in the 50s, 60s and 70s until the 90s, where the growth decreased again thanks to the demographic cycle.

Castelonovo had in 2019 a very high HDI of 0.813, being the sixth-largest of Belmonte. Despite having an extremely high number, the city suffers with a Gini of 43.4, which is above the national average. Therefore, the city maintains a high social inequality, with more developed and planned boroughs such as Jaraquara, Jardins, Ibará and Regina having very high HDIs as well as better infrastructure while regions like Vila Aurora, Vila Galisteu and Punhais lives under extremely precarious conditions with low HDIs and abstinence of the public sector in several ways.

As a cosmopolitan city, that means, comprised of citizens that came everywhere in the world, Castelonovo is the stage for several religions and denominations originated in several parts of the globe. According to the last census made in 2017, Sotirianism is the city’s largest religion, with almost 83% of the population identifying as such. From this percentage, circa 63% of which confesses as Catholic, with the church still holding many influence in the lives of thousands of people as a colonial heritage left by the three countries who colonized Belmonte that were very driven by the Catholic doctrine: Iustia, Poveglia and Gaullica. Followed by Catholicism, the second largest Sotirian strand is Amendism, which is followed by almost 20% of the population and is divided into hundreds of denominations and churches. The second largest religion present in Castelonovo is the Spiritism, which expanded considerably in the past decades, while the remaining 3.5% of the population belongs to other religions. Irreligiousness also grew a lot in the last years especially among the younger, hitting a mark close to 10%.

Regarding ethnicity, the biggest ethnic groups in Castelonovo are composed of whites and pardos, which comprises 44.3% and 44.1% of the city inhabitants, respectively. The white population largely comes from Iustia, Poveglia and Gaullica during colonial times as well as the immigration process of several Euclean peoples in the 19th and 20th century, while the pardo group is the product of an intense miscegenation process between several races, cultures and peoples. The third-largest group are the blacks who originally came from different Bahian places and went to Belmonte as slaves. Other races present in the city are the Coians (1.3%) and indigenous peoples, that comprises only 0.5% of the population.

Furthermore, Castelonovo also has a great and vibrant community of homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders, with 8% of the male population and 13% of the female population declaring to be non-heterosexual. There is diverse events dedicated to the LGBT community such as the Gay Pride March, which is realized every year since 2006.


Castelonovo has an extensive healthcare system, both public and private. The city is well served by the Public Healthcare Institute, which is administered by the local and federal government that maintains a network of 500 clinics and 12 hospitals through the city, as well as university hospitals. Meanwhile, the private sector is composed of various conglomerations, health insurance plans and independent hospitals, with the Santa Bárbara Clinical Centre and the Von Meyer Hospital being the most known private healthcare institutions in Belmonte.


The Castelonovo’s teaching network also is one of the largest in the country, having several teaching institutions that are public and private and primary, secondary and superior. In the public sphere, the municipal government, through its secretary of education, is the main owner and therefore responsible for hundreds of nurseries and primary and secondary schools, as well as the social projects present in them, while the federal government maintains most part of the superior institutions such as the University of Castelonovo (UCA), the main research centre of the city, and the Federal Educational Centre of Castelonovo (CEFC in Iustian), which is reserved for secondary teaching. In the private sector, the schools with highest punctuations in national exams are the Maynard and Vilela Colleges, while other private universities are the Pontifical Catholic University of Castelonovo, the University of Alto de Santana and the Amendist University Reinford.

Culture and society

Castelonovo is considered to be the cultural capital of Belmonte, with the city generally being the beginning of several artistic movements that consequently spreads to the country as a whole. There is various cultural centres and buildings scattered elsewhere in the city, with the most known ones being the Castelonovo Opera House and the Municipal Theatre, which are followed by hundreds of museums, parks and art galleries with diverse genres and styles. The largest cultural manifestations of the city are the Castelonovo Annual Art Fair, the Cultural Biennial of Arts and Literature, the Belmontese Music Festival and the Castelonovo Jazz Festival along with many others. Regarding media outlets, the city is the headquarters of newspapers and magazines such as Diário and República, with thousands of editions being sold every day. The city has only one holiday on May 19, where it’s commemorated the city’s foundation.

Castelonovo also is the seat of several sportive events, having football as the most popular sport among the population. Football teams dispute the Anchieta Provincial League since 1993 although the city has its own organizations and events, with the two largest and most popular teams being the Regina and Aurora FC, which also maintains one of the biggest rivalries in the national football and has its own stadiums: the Taramendé and Pacambu. Furthermore, other sports such as volleyball, athleticism and swimming are very present in the city’s life with many competitions taking place over the year.

Sister cities

See also