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The city was built on the island of Antonio Vaz opposite Recife, and designed by architect Pieter Post. It was named after Governor Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, who had founded the city and the adjoining palace Vrijburgh. Mauritsstad was the cultural center of the New World, with the first botanical garden and the first zoo in America, and a museum with three hundred stuffed monkeys. The city's Jewish population constructed the first synagogue in the Americas.
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