Recife: the land of “Frevo” and “Maracatu”

(Northern Brazilian folk music and dance genre)

(André Nery Prefeitura do Recife)

Recife City is one of the oldest Brazilian state capitals, as it was founded in 1537, as an important port for transporting sugarcane. Since then, it has never lost its commercial vocation, and nowadays, it is the fourth most important city of Brazil. The city was named after the existing “recifes” (reefs) along the seacoast and these attract divers from all over the world, due to its rich sea life and calm and crystal-clear waters. The temperature of the water is around 30 degrees Celsius (86° F). It was nicknamed as the “Brazilian Venice” afterwards. There are people who say there is a certain semblance between Recife and Venice, Italy, as the city is crossed by rivers and due to this, they have erected diverse bridges. One of them is the Maurício de Nassau Bridge, the oldest in Latin America.

The accelerated rhythm of “Frevo”, one of the main musical genres of this region is not only a cultural symbol of Pernambuco, as it is also recognized by Unesco as a cultural material patrimony of humanity. “Frevo” — jointly with “Maracatu”, another typical musical genre of the region — attracts a great multitude for Carnival. “Galo da Madrugada” (Daybreak Rooster), is considered by Guinness Book as the largest Carnival music and dance group in the world, as it attracts two million people into a single morning of revelry.

Carnival is not the only thing that lives in the cultural scene of the city. Recife hosts various museums, cultural centers, and institutions focused on promoting artistic initiatives. Besides that, the city is the birthplace for extremely influential artists, writers, and musicians in Brazil, such as the sculptor and plastic artist Francisco Brennand and the anthropologist Gilberto Freyre, who is also a promoter of music and movies.

There are about 10 thousand restaurants, as Recife is the third largest Brazilian gastronomical center, just behind Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The oldest eating establishment in the country is here. The sophisticated Restaurante Leite serves international gastronomy. It was founded in 1882; the restaurant has already served such prominent people as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Orson Welles, and Juscelino Kubitschek (one of the most popular former Brazilian presidents). Anybody who is looking for elements of local cuisine, it is so easy to find typical dishes, such as cassava and beef jerky. One of the most famous desserts is roll cake. Although, the Pernambuco cuisine is very rich and diversified and there are also elements inherited from African, Indigenous, and European origins.

Moreover, Recife is the Brazilian city best defining the miscegenation culture in this country. For this reason, it ended up becoming the “Northeastern Brazilian Capital city”, as there are regional headquarters for large companies and it is an important industrial center. Due to this, typical excitement of a regional metropolis is present here. But to get away from that, the only solution is go to neighboring Olinda, just 7 kilometers from historical downtown Recife and there is a little of the bucolic atmosphere from XVI century Pernambuco found there.

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