A strong effort is being made in Recife's historical area, recuperating its most beautiful buildings. Before leaving Portugal, a friend told me that he didn't like Recife, because it was old, degraded, and dirty. But everything has a negative and a positive side: those old and degraded buildings they kept, are now the base of the good work that is being done.
And when I remember the beauty of Av. Republica, in Lisbon, and the crazy job they did, replacing the old, degraded buildings by impersonal blocks, I must celebrate the Brazilian decision to keep the historic area, even with the bad look it still has here and there.
Recife Antigo (“Old Recife”) is how it´s called the historic center of the city. The town grew around the port and, after the arrival of Mauricio de Nassau to Pernambuco, in 1637, it started to have more urban characteristics (Pernambuco was dominated by Holland from 1637 until 1654; it´s a chapter of Brazilian history known as “the dutch invasion”).
The region of the port is known as “Marco Zero”. It´s considered the landmark of the foundation of the city. After Port of Suape inauguration, in the 80´s, Old Recife entered a period of decay and the rich architectural inheritance deteriorated. There´s been some efforts to recover it since the 90´s and many old buildings have already been restored, such as the old stock exchange building and the old houses of Rua Aurora.
Paço da Alfândega is a new shopping center located at the city center (Old Recife). The original building dates from the XVIII Century and it was completely renovated, although some of the original structures were kept. Originally it was a convent, then it was turned into the custom-house.
The balcony, on the last floor of the shopping center, offers beautiful views of the Capibaribe River and Old Recife. Don´t miss it!!!
Colonial architecture, old prison, open cobblestone streets with outdoor restaurants for people watching, gardens, etc. It's a feast for the eyes and the stomach. There is live music around every corner and dancing of all Brazilian kinds.
There is a small island off Recife, called Ilha do Recife or Old Recife. This was where the Portuguese merchants and landowners started their business here after Olinda was abandoned and it became the strategic port of the area.
Old Recife is full of old, crumbling colonial buildings that gave off an atmosphere not unlike Old Havana, Cuba. To be honest, it is quite charming here but I came on a Sunday, so it was very quiet. I expect the place to be livier by evening as there was a weekend fair being set up in the afternoon.
After the development of the new city, the island was left rotting, transforming into a red-light district, an unsavoury neighbourhood for the destitute. It was recently cleaned up the government, with many buildings restored (but once again, the paintworks are crumbling) and morphed into a somewhat business district now.
From my point of view, this is the best area to visit in Recife... The colours of the houses, the nice streets with trendy bars, the chocolate factory (such a goooood smell).... In the morning, there is nobody there, another way to visit it...
De mon point de vue, c'est le meilleur coin a visiter de Recife. Les couleurs des edifices, les rues sympas avec des bars tendances, l'usine de chocolat (quelle odeur !). Au petit matin, il n'y a personne la-bas, une autre facon de visiter le coin...
this is the old downtown/port area, recently remodeled, where now are a lot of restaurants, bars, shops, live music, folk shows.
They have just found a building where was the first synaguogue of Americas, founded around 1650, during the dutch invasion in Recife.
More pictures on the travelogue
In Recife Antigo District, there are many discos and events happening on the weekends...
And in Boa Viagem, the biggest Shopping of Latin America and many discos too.