Recife Travel Guide

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Rodrigo Saucedo

Recife is the capital of the state of Pernambuco in Brazil. It is one of the oldest settlements in Brazil, dating from 1535. Recife was no more than a fishing village when Dutch troops occupied Pernambuco (and later most of the Brazilian Northeast) in 1630 and moved the capital there from nearby Olinda. The Dutch developed Recife, building bridges and palaces and called it Mauritsstad, or Maurice Town, after the prince of Orange who was governor-general of the Dutch territories in Brazil. From the Dutch period, the oldest synagogue in the New World can be found in the old quarters of Recife Antigo. The Portuguese reconquered Pernambuco in 1654.

The city has good beaches, 18-th century baroque churches and 19-th century public buildings; it is also specially interesting as a good starting point for visiting nearby Olinda, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The best beaches, with year-around warm water, are found in Boa Viagem, where you also find many restaurants and good nightlife. The word "recife" means reef in Portuguese. A reef barrier is present very close to shore, and sometimes touching it. Shark attacks have become a more frequent danger since the 1990s, so it is illegal to surf or to swim beyond the reef line or in exposed stretches of beach.

In the city itself the main areas of interest are the Santo Antônio and Boa Vista quarters on the banks of the Rio Capibaribe. The Polo Bom Jesus, in Recife Antigo, is the main area for nightlife and eating out.

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