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Recife See/Do

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The best way to discover why Recife is called the Venice of Brazil is to take a catamaran ride. While longer trips cruise far up the Capibaribe River, more optimal is a cruise around Old Recife, in which you float under handsome iron bridges and...

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Recife - State of Pernambuco, 50740-970, Brazil

Open until dusk, the Parque das Esculturas, or sculpture garden, sits on a breakwater out by Recife's reef belt, across from the Marco Zero plaza. Some 90 works of trippy-looking turtles, pelicans and more by sculptor Francisco Brennand make...

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Av. Alfredo Lisboa - Recife, PE, 50030-150, Brazil

Old Recife's attractive plaza on the waterfront is called Marco Zero, or Ground Zero, because during the colonial era it was from this spot that distances were measured to the rest of the state of Pernambuco. Many of the buildings surrounding...

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R. do Bom Jesus, 183 - Recife, PE, 50030-170, Brazil

Surely one of the most unusual little museums, the one-room Embaixada dos Bonecos Gigantes is also one of the most fun. Bonecos Gigantes are giant puppet heads that are worn through Brazil's streets at carnaval. Many world figures and...

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R. do Bom Jesus, 197 - Rua Domingos José Martins, Recife - PE, 50030-170, Brazil

Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue, founded in the mid-17th century by Portuguese and Spanish Jews, was the New World's first. Located on what was formerly called Street of the Jews (today Bom Jesus Street), the original building was torn down...

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R. da Guia, s.n. - Recife, PE, 50030-360, Brazil

Facing the shaded little Praça do Arsenal square, a late-19th-century commercial building, finely restored and with an all-white facade, is now the Paço do Frevo Museum. And your first question will be what in the world is frevo...

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Av. Alfredo Lisboa, 505 - Recife, PE, 50030-150, Brazil

A gorgeous 1912 neoclassical building facing the Marco Zero, the city's waterfront plaza, was originally a British bank and later housed the stock market for the state of Pernambuco. Inaugurated in 2012, it is today the Caixa Cultural Center. In...

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Altura da rua Siqueira Campos - R. Imperador Pedro Segundo, S/N - Santo Antônio, Recife - PE, 50010-240, Brazil

The goldest of gold Baroque chapels, the Capela Dourada (Golden Chapel) is a real stunner and the highlight of ecclesiastical architecture in Old Recife. It's a miracle how well the superb gilding to the altar and crucifixes has been...

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Praça das Cinco Pontas, s/n - São José, Recife - PE, 50020-500, Brazil

As names go, Forte das Cinco Pontas is as descriptive as it gets: The Fort of Five Points is just that, a massive pentagonal bulwark, with four bastions, built by the Dutch in 1630. Today, the fort hosts the City Museum, with exhibits on Recife's...

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Av. Dezessete de Agosto, 2187 - Casa Forte, Recife - PE, 52061-540, Brazil

The Homem do Nordeste Museum, or Museum of Northeastern Peoples, is a bit off the beaten path, in the leafy Casa Forte suburb along the Capibaribe River. It's worth the drive for exhibitions on the region's unique blend of Indian, Portuguese...

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Alameda Antônio Brennand, s/n - Várzea, Recife - PE, 50791-904, Brazil

Like a mini–Hearst Castle in the tropics, the Ricardo Brennand Institute is a repository of medieval European tapestries, furnishings, armor and armaments housed in a Tudor castle named Castelo de São João. The collection also...

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Av. Boa Viagem - Boa Viagem, Recife - PE, 51011-000, Brazil

Boa Viagem is the Miami or Venice Beach of Recife, an upscale, almost-suburban district with a 12-kilometer (eight-mile) stretch of beach along whose fine promenade some locals enjoy ice cream and snacks, while others jog, bike...

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Av. Dantas Barreto, 646 - Santo Antônio, Recife - PE, 50020-000, Brazil

As part of a walking tour of Old Recife's Santo Antônio section and its large, lively square, a stop in the Carmelite order's Nossa Senhora (Our Lady) do Carmo basilica and convent is a must for a sense of the city's origins. The 1663...

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R. Benfica, 1150 - Madalena, Recife - PE, 50720-001, Brazil

How fitting that the Abolition Museum occupies an old sugarcane mill's fine mansion, called the Casa Grande da Madalena, which has a gorgeous Portuguese tile facade, but whose very existence was a result of slave labor. The museum covers the...

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Ato da Sé, s/n - Carmo, Olinda - PE, 53120-100, Brazil

High up in hilly Olinda, Sé Cathedral some years ago stripped away its elaborate Baroque facade and interior to return to its original humble beginnings. The city's most important place of worship houses the tomb of Archbishop...

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R. de São Francisco, 280 - Carmo, Olinda - PE, 53120-010, Brazil

The oldest Franciscan complex in Brazil is in Olinda; the São Francisco Convent, which dates from 1585 (and was rebuilt in 1631), is also a World Monuments Fund project. That is thanks to the richness of its Portuguese tile murals...

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R. Bpo. Coutinho - Carmo, Olinda - PE, 53030-000, Brazil

One of those small, unheralded museums that are easy to miss, the Museu de Arte Sacra de Pernambuco, or sacred art museum, is a wonderful little find. On two floors of a former bishop’s house that sits across from the town observatory...

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Bonsucesso, Olinda - State of Pernambuco, 53020-560, Brazil

Another of Olinda's fine churches—and one that might be easy to miss if you stroll by too quickly—is the tiny Misericórdia Church (also called the Church of Mercy), first built in the mid-1500s, with a Baroque interior added in...

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R. Treze de Maio, 149 - Carmo, Olinda - PE, 53020-170, Brazil

With its colonial architecture so nicely intact, Olinda is not the kind of place you'd expect to find a contemporary art museum. Indeed, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Pernambuco (MAC) is housed in a fine 1765 colonial villa that had...

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Recife - Paratibe, Recife - State of Pernambuco, Brazil

An hour outside of Recife, sculptor and ceramicist Francisco Brennand's workshop makes for a hoot of a visit. Located in a former tile factory, its vast grounds are filled with some 2,000 of his quirky works, which will remind Game...