Relaxing in Recife

Located on the northeastern point of Brazil, and jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, is Brazil’s ninth largest city, Recife.

The name Recife means “reef” in Portuguese, the official language of Brazil, and is so named because of the coral reefs which protect the shoreline.  Recife is the capital of the State of Pernambuco and its harbour is one of the largest in Brazil, making it quite a dynamic economic area.  The city also has a vibrant high tech industry and very good, sophisticated medical facilities which attracts patients from all over Brazil.

Being a coastal city, Recife has many urban beaches the most famous of which is Boa Viagem, which, with its 8 kilometre-long boulevarde, really comes alive during Carnival, and for many weeks beforehand.  If Boa Viagem becomes too crowded for you there are plenty of other quieter beaches where you can enjoy a more peaceful time.

The reef that protects the city runs parallel to the coast for many kilometres, and the entire region offers outstanding dive opportunities. Fishing villages dot this part of the coast, and these are excellent places to dine on fresh-caught seafood.

Apparently, surfing has been banned from the urban beaches because of the number of shark attacks that have occurred there, particularly at the beaches of Boa Viagem, Piedade, Pina and Candeias.

Recife is called the Brazilian Venice because it has many small rivers flowing through it, and lots of small islands in those rivers, with over 50 bridges helping to help the traffic flow over the rivers and islands.

There is a lot of history in the city, particularly as it was one of the first places in Brazil to be settled by Europeans when they arrived in 1537.

Recife is one of Brazil’s richest places to explore folk art and craft, including music, dance, sculpture, and painting.  Its traditional handicrafts include clay figurines, wood sculptures, leather goods, and woven straw, all to be found at festivals and markets around the city.

In fact, shopping is one of the popular activities here.  The city is home to one of South America’s largest mega malls Shopping Center Recife.  With a total are of two million square feet you have a choice of 465 shops, 10 cinemas and lots of restaurants and food halls.  If this isn’t enough for you, you could also try the other three of Recife’s mega malls: Shopping Center Tacaruna, Shopping Paco da Alfandega and Plaza Shopping Casa Forte.                            

For something more traditional there are good bargains to be had at the Market of St Joseph which is an old iron market. This traditional market was founded in 1871 and sells produce, fish, herbs, spices and local crafts.  Another really good place for shopping is the Casa da Cultura de Recife, Recife’s cultural marketplace, which was once a colonial prison. It has since been transformed into a centre for traditional arts. Excellent musical and dance performances often take place right outside the building.

Close to Recife is the historic city of Olinda, which is one of the best preserved colonial cities in Brazil.  Its downtown area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Olinda really comes to life during Carnival which turns into one huge street party.

Recife is located very close to the Equator so has a good climate, it also has plenty of lush, tropical vegetation, which with its mixture of old and contemporary architecture , rivers, islands and beaches make it a great place to visit.

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