Recife is all about seeing the historical landmarks and soaking up the sun on the urban beaches

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Recife em Pernambuco
Recife in Pernambuco

Born on the quayside from a natural anchorage, Recife began to expand in 1537 towards the neighbourhoods today called Santo Antonio and São José.

The surrounding sugar cane mills gave rise to neighbourhoods such as Graҫas, Madalena and Casa Forte, always on the banks of the Capibaribe River, which cuts through the city.

In 1630 – when the Dutch invaded Pernambuco – there were 121 mills working with slave labour.

Getting to know Recife means walking through historic landmarks built on mangrove embankments and now squeezed between cramped central streets and intense commerce.

It also means soaking up the sun on the urban and surrounding beaches, which stretch for 20 kilometres from Maria Farinha to Candeias, especially Boa Viagem, in the district of the same name, where the best accommodation and service options are concentrated.

The neighbouring towns, so close that they can be reached in a few minutes from the centre, complement the capital’s itineraries: the best views of Recife are those from the viewpoints of Olinda, just 7 kilometres to the north.Recife.

Recifenses also frequent the nightclubs of Olindense and the strongholds of Boa Viagem and the Recife neighbourhood, or old Recife, as the historic centre is called.

To the south of the capital, in the metropolitan region, is Jaboatão dos Guararapes, with good hotels by the sea and which preserves an important historical monument – the church of Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres dos Montes Guararapes, built in 1782 on the site of the expulsion of the Dutch from the Northeast in 1654.

Videos about Recife in Pernambuco

See also Igarassu is a historic city in the Metropolitan Region of Recife PE.

URBAN BEACHES OF RECIFE

Boa Viagem Recife Beach
Boa Viagem Beach

The beaches of Pina and Boa Viagem and the neighbouring Piedade and Candeias, in Jaboatão dos Guararapes, are frequented by locals and visitors.

They all have stalls, parasols and strong street vending – vendors offer everything from fresh pineapple to bean stews.

Boa Viagem beach, whose promenade has a jogging track and standardised kiosks, stands out among the most structured.

The stretch of beach in front of the Acaiaca building, between the streets Félix de Brito and Antonio Falcão, concentrates the young public. On this beach, as on the others, a warning: pay attention to the signs that indicate areas in danger of shark attacks.

The tip is to enjoy the sea only at low tide and never go beyond the barrier reef. Surfing is prohibited.

Sharks in Recife

The beaches of Pina and Boa Viagem, in Recife, and Piedade and Candeias, in Jaboatão dos Guararapes, are considered risk zones for bathers and, above all, for surfers.

According to data from the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, since 1992, 50 attacks by sharks of the species cabeҫa-chata (Carcharhinus leucas) and tiger (Galeocerdo cuvieri) have been recorded in the city, with nineteen deaths. Most of the accidents occurred on Boa Viagem beach.

Experts attribute the attacks to a local ecological imbalance caused by the construction of Suape harbour in the 1980s.

Signs on the shore indicate the dangerous areas for bathing, forbidden at low tide and in the natural pools near the sand, isolated and protected by reefs. Surfing and swimming beyond the reefs are prohibited at these points.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS OF RECIFE

1. RIDE ON THE CAPIBARIBE RIVER

Capibaribe River
Capibaribe River

Recife reveals itself from an unusual point of view on a catamaran ride along the Capibaribe River. The route shows how the central urban areas are divided according to the course of the river.

The tour begins at the anchorage of Forte das Cinco Pontas, passing by the Sculpture Park and the neighbourhoods where Recife began its history: the historic centre and the islands of Santo Antonio and São José, reaching Boa Vista.

On the way you will cross the Maurício de Nassau and Buarque de Macedo bridges, which were rebuilt in the early 20th century, and see monuments such as the Alfandega Palace (1826) and the Madre de Deus Church (18th century).

The route continues along Praҫa da República until it reaches the point where the Capibaribe River meets the Beberibe River, at the height of Rua da Aurora, with multicoloured houses, culminating in the Casa da Cultura.

2. STRENGTHS IN RECIFE

São Tiago das Cinco Pontas
São Tiago das Cinco Pontas

Located at the entrance to the harbour of Recife, the Brum Fort was built in 1629 by the Portuguese and, a year later, taken by the Dutch. Originally made of rammed earth, it was rebuilt with stone after the invaders were expelled in 1654 (praҫa Comunidade Luso-Brasileira, s/n, Recife Antigo).

The Fort of São Tiago das Cinco Pontas, dating from 1630, also built of rammed earth with five bastions, was part of the Dutch defence system.

The then Fort Frederik Henrick was practically torn down after the Portuguese victory and a new stone fortress was built in its place, this time with only four bastions and a chapel dedicated to St James.

It houses the City Museum, which has a curious collection of old photographs and maps of Recife (Praҫa Cinco Pontas, s/n, São José).

3. HISTORICAL CENTRE

Centro Histórico de Recife
Historic Centre of Recife

The historic centre of Recife, also known as the Recife neighbourhood or Recife Antigo, is a strip of land bathed on one side by the waters of the Capibaribe River and on the other by the Atlantic Ocean.

On this stretch of land are some of the strongest symbols of the city’s memory – starting with the harbour of Recife, always cut off by the whistle of a departing ship.

Modern buildings are mixed with the architecture of old buildings, traces of the Dutch presence in the city and the urban interventions of the early 20th century, which gave the neighbourhood a French-inspired character.

The best way to discover the secrets of Recife Antigo, with its cobbled streets and Portuguese cobblestones, is to walk around, discovering ice-cream parlours, restaurants and places to drink juice and coconut water.

4. MARCO ZERO

Marco Zero de Recife
Marco Zero de Recife

The official name is Praҫa Barão do Rio Branco, a circular space from which you can see the sea and the movement of the city.

The Marco Zero marks the starting point of the Pernambuco roads, and from there the avenues Marques de Olinda, Rio Branco and Barbosa Lima converge, opened at the beginning of the 20th century, following the Parisian model of urbanism.

The eclectic architecture of the buildings surrounding Marco Zero is striking: the Bandepe Cultural Institute, built in 1914 and restored in 2002, which opens its doors for seasons of artistic exhibitions; the Recife Commercial Association, dating from 1915; and the Stock Exchange building, built in 1912.

The centre of the square is also worth a look: a wind rose by Cicero Dias (1907-2003), one of the greatest painters of Brazilian surrealism.

5. PARQUE DAS ESCULTURAS

Parque das Esculturas
Parque das Esculturas

Built on the reef in front of Marco Zero, it is a permanent exhibition composed of sculptures by the Pernambuco painter and sculptor Francisco Brennand.

The Crystal Column (32 metres high) stands out against the backdrop.

Rowing boats make the crossing during the day from Marco Zero. Another way to reach the site is by car from the Brasília Teimosa neighbourhood.

Next to the Parque das Esculturas, the Casa de Banho bar offers a picturesque view of the Recife neighbourhood, even better if accompanied by a cold beer with sururu broth.

The name of the bar is a reference to a club where, at the beginning of the last century, Recife society gathered to bathe in the natural pool formed between the reefs (Porto de Recife reefs, km 1, Brasília Teimosa).

6. RUA DO BOM JESUS

Rua do Bom Jesus
Rua do Bom Jesus

During the Dutch occupation of Recife (1630-54), it was called Rua dos Judeus (Street of the Jews), and it was where the trade of the period was concentrated.

The end of the Dutch invasion also marked the end of religious tolerance. The street, renamed, preserves colourful townhouses with balconies and platbands in a predominantly eclectic style.

The old houses have given way to restaurants and bars with tables on the sidewalk, such as the Bom Jesus Emporium, which combines food such as tapioca and bolo-de-rolo with the sale of Brazilian handicrafts (no. 183-A) and the Galerias (no. 35), where the traditional malted milk is served.

There are also craft shops, such as Ranulpho Galeria de Arte (no. 125, ground floor), whose collection comprises works signed by Volpi, Siron Franco and Lula Cardoso Ayres.

The gallery displayed the ruins of the stone wall erected by the Dutch to protect the city, found during an excavation for renovations at the site.

On Sunday afternoons, Rua do Bom Jesus is home to a friendly street market, with 142 stalls offering everything from clothes to decorative objects, as well as biscuits and cakes.

6. SINAGOGA KAHAL ZUR ISRAEL

synagogue Kahal Zur Israel
synagogue Kahal Zur Israel

Its facilities today comprise the Jewish Centre of Pernambuco, in the Recife neighbourhood, in the city’s historic centre.

The first synagogue in the Americas was rediscovered after thorough archaeological work. Closed in 1654, restored and reopened in 2002, the synagogue Kahal Zur Israel – “rock of Israel” – keeps the memory of the Jewish presence in Pernambuco during the Dutch occupation.

A visit to the site reveals its ancient walls and floor, as well as the mikve, a kind of pool for Jewish purification rituals. Rua do Bom Jesus, 197 and 203, Recife Antigo.

7. TORRE MALAKOFF CULTURAL OBSERVATORY.

Torre Malakoff Cultural Observatory
Torre Malakoff Cultural Observatory

Located in one of the most privileged spots in the city, in the heart of Recife, the Malakoff Tower, former Astronomical Observatory and Monumental Gate of the Navy Arsenal, today functions as a cultural space with a dual vocation: on the one hand, there are visual arts (photography, graphic arts and digital arts) and on the other, music.

The Tower, which was launched as a cultural centre and exhibition space in 2000, housing the 44th Pernambuco Plastic Arts Salon, is now also home to the Music Coordination of the Pernambuco Historical and Artistic Heritage Foundation (Fundarpe) and the Observa e Toca Malakoff project.

The building, inaugurated in 1855, was baptised Malakoff by the people of Recife in reference to the tower of the same name located in the city of Sebastopol (located south of Russia, now Ukraine), which in that year, during the Crimean War, resisted French and English onslaughts for eleven months.

The imposing architectural lines of the Monumental Gate of the Navy were associated with the name Malakoff for referring to the idea of grandeur.

8. APOLO THEATRE

Apollo Theatre in Recife - PE
Apollo Theatre

The construction of the Apollo Theatre began in 1839 by the Harmonic Theatrical Society. Inaugurated in 1842, it operated for 18 years, being deactivated in and its facilities were used as a sugar warehouse.

A highlight of 19th-century architecture, the Apollo Theatre, designed by Joaquim Lopes de Barros Cabral Teive (1816-92), has a lias stonework carved in Portugal, triangular lintels and curved balconies on the façade.

Opened in 1846, it could not withstand the competition and closed soon after the inauguration of the Santa Isabel Theatre in 1850.

With its façade still preserved, it was restored and reopened in 1981, receiving a new restoration in 1986, when it received the company of the Hermilo Borba Filho Theatre, becoming the Apolo-Hermilo Centre for Training and Research in the Performing Arts. In 1988, the Centre also received the company of the Hosman Lins Documentation Centre.

For more than a century it served as a warehouse. Restored, today it houses one of the cosiest cinemas and concert halls in Recife. Rua Cais do Apolo, 121, Recife Antigo.

9. JEWISH PRESENCE IN HOLLANDISH BRAZIL

The arrival of the Dutch in Recife in 1630 was welcomed by Portuguese Jews (Sephardim) and some from what are now Poland and Germany (Ashkenazi) who had moved to the New World to escape the Inquisition courts.

Count Mauricio de Nassau, the Dutch and Calvinist governor of Brazil, instituted broad religious tolerance in the colony, in accordance with what was advocated by the West India Company, a company that brought together merchants from the Netherlands and financed the arrival of the Flemish in the Northeast.

In Recife, the Jews worked in commerce, which was concentrated in Rua dos Judeus, today Bom Jesus, where the synagogue of Zur Israel was built, probably in 1636.

In 1641, Zur Israel received the Portuguese rabbi Isaac Aboab da Fonseca, who presided over the services of the synagogue. It was Aboab who, in Recife, wrote the first piece of Hebrew literature in American lands.

It is the poem “Mi Kamókha” (“Who like you?”), which recounts the action of the Pernambuco Insurrection (a movement to reconquer Brazilian lands from the Portuguese) and the situation of misery faced by the Jewish community when the Portuguese began to expel the Dutch.

With the expulsion of the troops from Brazilian lands in 1654, about four hundred Jews returned to the Netherlands. A group of 23 of them, however, went to New Amsterdam in the United States.

There, they formed the first Jewish community in the city, which later, captured by the British, would be called New York. Rabbi Isaac Aboab da Fonseca went on to Amsterdam, in Holland, where he built a Portuguese synagogue, inaugurated in 1675.

10. CARNAVAL IN RECIFE

The Carnival in Recife is one of the most democratic and diverse in the country. The party starts a week before, when frevo and maracatus blocks rehearse at open dances, in clubs or even on the streets.

Bloco da Saudade, which has been reviving old traditions since 1974 with a women’s choir and string orchestra, promotes one of the most lively and moving dances in clubs.

At the city’s Marco Zero, Pernambuco percussionist Naná Vasconcelos rehearses throughout the pre-carnival week for the opening ceremony of Carnival, which takes place on Friday evening. More than four hundred drummers from Recife’s eleven maracatu naҫões stand side by side under Naná’s regency in one of the city’s most beautiful musical events.

On Saturday morning it’s the turn of Galo da Madrugada: the streets of the Santo Antonio, São José and Boa Vista neighbourhoods are taken over by more than 2 million people in the world’s largest (and probably tightest) street block.

From Saturday afternoon onwards, Recife is divided into poles of revelry. In the Patio de São Pedro there are performances of coco de roda, afoxe, ciranda and frevo.

The Cais da Alfandega becomes the stage for Rec Beat, a festival featuring the main names in Brazilian rock and electronic music, with an emphasis on the musicians who gave rise to mangue beat, a movement represented by Chico Science (1966-97) and Naҫão Zumbi and Mundo Livre S/A.

Guararapés Avenue is the stage for the samba school parades, while the Night of the Silent Drums takes place in the Patio do Terҫo on Monday night.

From the Arsenal square in the Recife neighbourhood, maracatus, caboclinhos and blocos come out to the sound of powerful and contagious frevo orchestras. The Carnival programme is publicised in advance in the city’s tourist information centres and by the local media.

11. MADRE DE DEUS CHURCH

Igreja Madre de Deus
Igreja Madre de Deus

Igreja Madre de Deus is a Roman Catholic religious temple in the city of Recife, Pernambuco.

The construction of the church was only completed in 1720 and its façade features stone sculptures of the reefs and a life-size statue of St Philip of Neri, but its original design dates from 1679.

A national historic monument, it consists of a nave and six side chapels.

The early 18th-century baroque carving adorning the chancel, destroyed by fire in 1970, was restored by IPHAN. In the sacristy, the Estremoz marble washbasin is one of the most beautiful in Brazil.

Rua da Alfandega (Rua da Madre de Deus), s/n, Recife Antigo.

12. SHOPPING PAÇO ALFÂNDEGA

Originally built on the banks of the Capibaribe River to house the members of the Congregation of Oratories, it is considered a national historic heritage site.

It became the Customs House of Pernambuco in 1826. After careful restoration and adaptation work, the space was inaugurated as a shopping centre in late 2003, with a food court, restaurants and a nightclub.

Among its 46 shops are brands such as Fause Haten and Herchcovitch, as well as the Ana Paes shop, with clothes that use handicrafts such as lace and fuxicos. On the ground floor, the highlight is the Livraria Cultura and, on the third floor, the Espaço Cultural Banco do Brasil, with frequent film screenings. Rua da Moeda, 35, Recife Antigo.

14. SANTO ANTÔNIO, SÃO JOSÉ E BOA VISTA

Built in the mid-17th century, the neighbourhoods of Santo Antônio, São José and Boa Vista are home to architectural complexes of great importance – those that gave rise to Praça da República and Pátio de São Pedro, for example.

Most of Recife’s historic churches are also located here, such as the Church of the Divine Holy Spirit, built in 1641 and remodelled in 1870.

These are neighbourhoods to be discovered on long walks, discovering the landscapes of the Capibaribe River from its bridges and entering narrow streets full of people attracted by the trade in all sorts of things.

The centre of this trade is the Mercado de São José, next to the Basilica of Nossa Senhora da Penha (1880-1920), which, with its mixture of smells and colours, reflects the liveliness and joy of the people of Recife.

15. PRAÇA DA REPÚBLICA

Praça da República in Recife
Praça da República

The square occupies the place where the garden of Count Maurício de Nassau once flourished. The first planned green area in Recife, it covers 23,000 square metres.

Around it stand the Palácio do Campo das Princesas (1840), a neoclassical building that houses the state government, the Santa Isabel Theatre (1850), the Palácio da Justiça (1928) in eclectic style, and the Liceu de Artes e Oficias (1880), with architecture inspired by French classicism.

Its garden was originally designed in 1875 by the French naturalist Emile Bérenger and remodelled in 1936 by Roberto Burle Marx. In the square there is also an immense and lodo baobab (Adansonia digitata), an African species that is not known how or when it was planted.

16. SANTA ISABEL THEATRE

Santa Isabel Theatre in Recife
Santa Isabel Theatre

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In the imposing theatre with its classic pink façade, built in 1850 to a design by French engineer Louis Léger Vauthier, the three great arches at the entrance stand out.

Now declared a national historic monument, it was destroyed by fire in 1869, but its façade was restored and, internally, it received the columns and ornate iron sills that made the Santa Isabel one of the most beautiful theatres of the imperial period.

In front of the building, a bronze statue signed by the Pernambuco sculptor Abelardo da Hora depicts the architect Vauthier in life size. Praҫa da República, s/n, Santo Antonio.

17. RUA DA AURORA

Rua Aurora em Recife
Rua Aurora

The street’s name is not coincidental: a former marshland on the left bank of the Capibaribe River, facing east, it receives the first rays of the morning sun; on the other bank is Rua do Sol, illuminated at dusk.

In the 19th century, neoclassical buildings appeared, whose colourful façades are mirrored in the waters of the river. There is the building of the Public Security Secretariat, the former residence of the Count of Boa Vista, built in 1842 to a design by the author of the Santa Isabel Theatre.

Another highlight is the Pernambuco Gymnasium (1885), the most traditional educational institution in the state. In the 1920s the first buildings in the city were built on the street, such as the Montreal, Capibaribe and Iemanjá.

18. MAMAM

Mamam
Mamam

The Aloísio Magalhães Museum of Modern Art (Mamam) hosts temporary exhibitions of national contemporary art.

Located in one of the charming townhouses on Rua da Aurora, its collection includes 900 works, including paintings by Alex Flemming, João Câmara and Francisco Brennand.

At the entrance to the museum, you can admire the tile panel signed by the Recife artist Aloísio de Magalhães (1927-82), after whom the museum is named. Rua da Aurora, 265, Boa Vista.

19. CINE SÃO LUIZ

CINE SÃO LUIZ EM RECIFE
CINE SÃO LUIZ

On Rua da Aurora, Recife’s oldest cinema, opened in 1952, has 1,200 seats, between audience and balcony, and continues to open its wide iron and glass doors towards the street, which allows the breeze from the Capibaribe River to enter.

In the entrance hall of the cinema, a mural by the painter Lula Cardoso Ayres (1910-87), born in Recife, welcomes visitors who, in the 1960s, could only go there wearing suits and ties or long dresses.

Next to the screen, stained glass windows with floral themes light up the room at the end of the sections. Rua da Aurora, 175, Boa Vista.

20. HOUSE OF CULTURE

Casa da Cultura em Recife
Casa da Cultura

The Casa da Cultura is the great centre of popular art in Pernambuco.

The centenary French-style building used to function as a prison.

Today, it houses almost 100 shops selling handicrafts and typical foods. In its corridors and courtyard there are also folkloric presentations, shows and events that provide visitors with a more comprehensive view of the rich and unique culture of the people of Pernambuco.

The craft centre is housed in the former Recife House of Detention, built in 1867 and deactivated in 1973.

Divided into four wings, the building has 156 cells now converted into shops selling a little bit of everything: from ceramics from Alto do Moura in Caruaru to embroidery from Passira, to pieces from the town of Tracunhaém and out-of-print books. Rua Cais da Detenҫão, s/n, São José.

21. RECIFE MARKETS

Recife’s popular markets synthesise the flavours, smells and colours of Pernambuco. The main one is the Mercado de São José, whose design, by French engineer Victor Lieutier, was inspired by a market in Paris. Its prefabricated iron structure came from France to be assembled in the capital of Pernambuco.

In its 46 pavilions, stalls offer fish, seafood and spices, as well as candles and coloured beads, and images of the orishas of xangô, as candomblé is called in Recife. There are also handicrafts from the Zona da Mata, the agreste and the sertão of Pernambuco, such as popular toys, straw baskets, hammocks and embroidered towels (Praҫa D. Vital, s/n, São José).

While the traditional São José Market welcomes people from all over, the Casa Amarela (Estrada do Arraial, 4000, Casa Amarela) and Madalena (Rua Real da Torre, s/n, Madalena) markets are interesting neighbourhood shopping centres.

The Casa Amarela market, with its iron architecture, was the second to be built in Recife using this material. Dismantled, it was moved in 1930 from the Caxangá neighbourhood to its current location.

The Madalena Market (1925), known in the past as the Bacurau Market because its bars opened at dawn (the bacurau is a nocturnal bird), is still the place where the city’s bohemian crowd ends the night, often stretching the tour until the morning – when the bars serve warm cassava with stewed chicken or baked cheese.

22. NOSSA SENHORA DA CONCEIÇÃO DOS MILITARES CHURCH

IGREJA DE NOSSA SENHORA DA CONCEIÇÃO DOS MILITARES
IGREJA DE NOSSA SENHORA DA CONCEIÇÃO DOS MILITARES

The simple façade, with only one bell tower, goes almost unnoticed amid the lights of one of the busiest shopping streets in Recife.

The richness of the church is hidden inside: the high altar, with the image of Our Lady of the Conception, the altarpiece and the central arch are decorated with exuberant white and gold rococo carving.

The ceiling is decorated with volutes and flowers and features paintings of the Virgin Mary, one of which depicts her pregnant and surrounded by angels.

On the choir ceiling, a large panel depicts the first battle of Guararapes. Listed as a national historic heritage site, the Nossa Senhora da Conceição dos Militares church was built in the 18th century by the Brotherhood of Sergeants and Soldiers of the Infantry Rosary of the Recife Garrison. Rua Nova, 309, Santo Antonio.

23. BASILICA AND CONVENT OF OUR LADY OF CARMO

BASILICA E CONVENTO DE NOSSA SENHORA DO CARMO
BASILICA E CONVENTO DE NOSSA SENHORA DO CARMO

The 18th-century architectural complex comprising the basilica and convent of Nossa Senhora do Carmo and the church of Santa Teresa da Ordem Terceira do Carmo was built on the site of the Boa Vista Palace, the residence of Maurício de Nassau.

Highlights of the basilica include the ceiling of the chancel, completed in 1767, painted in shades of blue and gold, and the altar, in which the same colours were applied to rococo carvings.

The high ceiling gives way to balconies with ornate balustrades that surround the entire nave; the balconies, in turn, are decorated with paintings in richly carved frames.

The gilded coffered ceiling of the church of Santa Teresa da Ordem Terceira do Carmo, which was given over to worship in 1710 (although its rococo pediment dates from 1803), features forty panels depicting the life of Santa Teresa. Av. Dantas Barreto, s/n, Santo Antonio.

24. IGREJA MATRIZ DE SANTO ANTONIO (SANTÍSSIMO SACRAMENTO)

IGREJA MATRIZ DE SANTO ANTONIOBuilt between 1753 and 1790, the main church of St Anthony keeps its doors open during the day. Passers-by in the bustling Independence Square enter to rest or simply to pray to St Anthony, one of the country’s most popular saints.

The church combines Baroque elements with others introduced in later renovations, such as the ceiling paintings done in the 19th century by Sebastião da Silva Tavares. Praҫa da Independencia, s/n, Santo Antonio.

25. GOLDEN CHAPEL

CAPELA DOURADA
CAPELA DOURADA

The Golden Chapel if tecentista surprises by its richness. The altar, the walls and the ceiling are carved and covered with gold leaf, in the maximum expression of the Baroque in Recife. Built between 1696 and 1724 by the Third Order of St Francis of Assisi, it belongs to the architectural complex of the Franciscan Convent, a national historic site that includes the church of St Anthony and the former hospital of the Third Franciscans.

The Franciscan Museum of Sacred Art is located next to the church, with pieces from the 18th century. Rua do Imperador D. Pedro II, s/n, Santo Antonio.

26. PÁTIO DE SÃO PEDRO

PÁTIO DE SÃO PEDRO
PÁTIO DE SÃO PEDRO

Aligned houses, with colourful facades and platbands, form a kind of square square lined with irregular stones – Pátio São Pedro is one of the only ones to preserve this layout, common in colonial Brazil.

Declared a national historic monument by Iphan, the architectural complex belonged to the Brotherhood of Clerics, which in 1728 financed the construction of the imposing Concatedral de São Pedro dos Clérigos, a highlight in the square due to its magnificent carved stonework façade.

Today, the old one- or two-storey houses are occupied by bars and restaurants. The Buraquinho serves typical dishes from the north-east (no. 28) and the Casa do Carnaval is a space dedicated to the study of regional folklore (no. 52).

On Tuesday evenings, the Pátio de São Pedro becomes the stage for Black Tuesday, an event with musical performances related to Afro-Brazilian culture.

27. ROSARIO DOS PRETOS CHURCH

IGREJA DO ROSÁRIO DOS PRETOS
IGREJA DO ROSÁRIO DOS PRETOS

Built between 1739 and 1777 for slaves, it has a predominantly rococo style.

The façade is decorated with exceptional carved stonework; inside, there is a beautiful image of the patron saint, probably from the 18th century.

The procession of the King of the Congo used to leave this church, now listed by IPHAN, a ritual brought from Africa by the slaves who came to work in the sugar plantations of Pernambuco and which marks the origin of Recife’s maracatus. Rua Estreita do Rosário, s/n, Santo Antonio.

NIGHT OF THE SILENT TAMBORS

The church of Nossa Senhora do Terço, in Pátio do Terço, was built in the mid-18th century and remodelled many times.

The current façade, in rococo style and with a single tower, dates from 1847. Since 1968, on the night of Carnival Monday, the square in front of the church has been filled with crowds honouring the blacks who died during slavery with a maracatus parade.

At midnight, in one of the magical moments of the Recife Carnival, the drumming stops and the lights are switched off. Everyone is silent for a minute, in remembrance of the ban on the manifestation of beliefs and cultures of African origin in the colonial period.

The maracatu-nation, as the city’s maracatu is called (unlike the rural maracatu, which originated in the Zona da Mata), emerged around 1650 and represents the coronation of African kings.

The format of the procession, however, is European, in an example of cultural syncretism. African slaves came from regions such as Costa da Mina, Angola, among others, but mainly from Congo; for this reason, maracatu is known as the coronation procession of the king of Congo.

28. RECIFE’S SURROUNDINGS

The neighbourhoods around Recife that are further away from the centre and the coast of Recife are traditionally called arredores, even though they are integrated into the capital.

The outskirts of Recife derive from villages that sprang up along the Capibaribe River, former mill lands that still preserve the bucolic air, with tree-lined streets and peculiar houses, as seen in Poço na Panela and Apipucos.

As you enter the neighbourhood, you will find some of the most significant museums in Recife, such as the Man of the Northeast, and the Francisco Brennand Workshop, installed in the beautiful setting of the old São João mill, in the Várzea neighbourhood.

28.1 PASÁRGADA SPACE

House where the writer Manuel Bandeira (1886-1968), born in Recife, spent his childhood. The name is a reference to his most famous poem (Vou-me embora pra Pasárgada /Lá sou amigo do rei /There I have the woman I want /In the bed I will choose).

There is also an exhibition of the poet’s personal objects and a bookshop. Rua da União, 263, Boa Vista.

28.2 MUSEUM OF THE STATE

MUSEU DO ESTADO
MUSEUM OF THE STATE

It is housed in a 19th-century mansion that belonged to the family of the Baron of Beberibe and is under restoration.

A significant part of its collection was transferred to the annex Espaço Cícero Dias, inaugurated in 2003, which exhibits furniture from the 17th and 18th centuries, Chinese and English porcelain, paintings by Telles Júnior and other Pernambucans, as well as objects from candomblé rituals. Rua Rui Barbosa, 960, Graҫas.

28.3 POÇO DA PANELA

An important 19th-century house, built on the lands of the former Casa Forte sugar mill on the banks of the Capibaribe River, stands along irregular cobbled streets. The simple façade of the 1772 church of Nossa Senhora da Saúde (Rua Real do Poҫo, s/n) stands out among imperial palm trees.

In front of the church square is Mercearia do Vital, with a wooden counter and tables on the pavement, where you can have a cold beer accompanied by a freshly sliced cheese sandwich, perfect for the calm of the place.

28.4 PARQUE DA JAQUEIRA

PARQUE DA JAQUEIRA
PARQUE DA JAQUEIRA

A former farm on the banks of the Capibaribe has become one of the city’s most channelled public spaces.

Between jackfruit, olive and jamboree trees, a 1-kilometre jogging track surrounds the park, which also has a bicycle, skating and bicicross track, as well as children’s toys.

In the second half of the 18th century, a chapel was built there under the invocation of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, known as the Jaqueira chapel.

Listed as a national historic heritage site, in 1970 it received a garden designed by Roberto Burle Marx. Inside, where tile panels depict the history of São José do Egito, the altarpiece and pulpit have gilded carvings in the Rococo style. A. Rui Barbosa, s/n, Jaqueira.

29. ART GALLERIES

Two galleries in Recife offer visitors a good overview of contemporary Pernambuco art. One of them is Galeria Amparo 60, which represents some of the most renowned artists in Recife and Olinda, such as Christina Machado, Rinaldo, José Patrício and Domingos Paulo Meira (Av. Domingos Ferreira, 92, Pina).

At Galeria Mariana Moura you will find works by other names, such as Marcelo Silveira, Gil Vicente, Alexandre Nóbrega and Janine Toledo. Av. Rui Barbosa, 735, Graҫas.

30. OFICINA FRANCISCO BRENNAND

OFICINA FRANCISCO BRENNAND
OFICINA FRANCISCO BRENNAND

A former colonial mill, later transformed into the Brennand family pottery, the workshop, which has been the work place of the Recife artist since 1971, has a magical atmosphere.

The setting is made up of sculptures, sometimes monumental, arranged along boulevards, gardens and lakes, where black swans glide. A square designed by Burle Marx separates the workshop from the Academy, a space dedicated to the permanent exhibition of Brennand’s paintings and drawings.

The visit can last an entire afternoon, as there is much to see, read, hear and contemplate. A pleasant café with a shop where you can have a quick meal completes the tour. Cosme e Damião property, s/n, access from Caxangá Avenue, Várzea.

31. SCIENCE AND ART IN DUTCH BRAZIL

When Maurício de Nassau landed in Recife in 1637, he was accompanied by an entourage of 46 scholars, including, among others, the physician and naturalist Willem Piso and the astronomer and naturalist Georg Marcgrave, who would later become the authors of the first compendiums on the fauna and flora of the new continent.

Also accompanying Nassau were the painters Frans Post (1612-80) and Albert Eckhout (1610-65), who minutely recorded the landscapes, fauna and inhabitants – especially the Indians and blacks – of the Pernambuco lands.

The work carried out by Nassau’s entourage resulted in an unprecedented historical and scientific legacy for the time. Albert Eckhout left a set of eight large paintings of Brazilian ethnic types, as well as a collection of smaller oil paintings on wood, watercolours and drawings of plants.

Frans Post, the first landscape artist in the United States, painted at least eighteen oil paintings depicting the Pernambuco landscape.

One of them, which shows Fort Frederick: Henrich, now Fort das Cinco Pontas, is at the Ricardo Brennand Institute.

32. RICARDO BRENNAND INSTITUTE

INSTITUTO RICARDO BRENNAND
INSTITUTO RICARDO BRENNAND

Created by the collector Ricardo Brennand, Francisco’s cousin, the formidable institute inaugurated in 2002 is made up of three elements – the Castle, the Pinacoteca and the Library – which occupy two buildings built in the Gothic style.

The exceptional collection houses a precious collection of paintings, maps, manuscripts, books and coins produced during the 24 years of Dutch occupation in Recife and the Northeast.

The seventeen canvases signed by Frans Post stand out, especially the one depicting Fort Frederick Hendrik, now Fort das Cinco Pontas, from 1630. The collection of weapons and armour, especially from the Middle Ages, is another highlight.

The institute’s cafeteria has Rosa Didier’s famous bolo-de-rolo and tapioca cakes and is opposite a beautiful sculpture garden. Al. Antonio Brennand, s/n, Várzea.

33. MUSEUM OF THE NORTH-EAST MAN

The space, inaugurated in 1979, offers an excellent opportunity to understand the history of the formation of Northeastern culture.

Belonging to the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, the Museum of the Man of the Northeast is divided into three sectors: “Sugar”, where historical and technological aspects of sugarcane culture are addressed; “Oh de casa!”, which contains constructive, decorative and utilitarian elements, such as tiles, bricks, stonework, tiles and objects related to living in the Northeast; and “Anthropology”, with objects related to folkloric, religious and artistic manifestations. Av. 17 de Agosto, 2187, Casa Forte.

34. GILBERTO FREYRE FOUNDATION

FUNDAÇÃO GILBERTO FREYRE
FUNDAÇÃO GILBERTO FREYRE

The anthropologist Gilberto Freyre published 89 books in which he sought to explain – in a polemical and always brilliant way – the society of Brazil and the Northeast.

The author of the classic Casa-grande e senzala, first published in 1933 and now in its 50th edition, lived and wrote in this house, which he called Vivenda Santo Antônio de Apipucos.

The library, which occupies several rooms, and the interesting panels of Portuguese tiles are noteworthy. Rua Dois Irmãos, 320, Apipucos.

Travelling Tourist Guide to Recife in Pernambuco

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