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Tour 1: Splendor of Recife

February 21, 2009

Tour 1 Highlights

Tour 1 Highlights: Splendor of Recife

Highlights Video on YouTube

The Splendor of Recife Tour is a Half-Day Walking Tour. We will visit monuments, palaces, a theatre, churches, public gardens and important buildings. Each tell a part of the history of Brazil, form its Colonial past under Portuguese and Dutch rule, to the birth of the Republic, and to the present day.

To book this tour, e-mail for a booking form.


Mauricio Nassau Bridge

Our Tour will begin in front of Paço da Alfandega shopping center in Recife Antigo. From here we will walk across the Mauricio de Nassau Bridge to our first stop 1817 Square.


1817 Square Monument

Our first stop is 1817 Square (Praça 1817), is the 1817 revolution monument, an Italian marble water fountain (1846) with an Indian  statue representing Brazil.


Church of the Devine Spirit

Our second stop will be the Church of the Devine Spirit. Built on the site of a Calvinist temple were a church and school (1654) for for a Jesuit order. In 1759 the Jesuits were expelled and the school became the governor’s palace. Not until 1855 was the church status restored.


Aviation Monument

A second monument pays homage to Portuguese aviators. The  Sacadura Cabral and Cago Coutinho Monument commemorates the first South Atlantic crossing which they made in 1922.

Zeplin over Recife 1932

Aviation was to feature in Recife´s history again in the 1930´s being the first destination for transatlantic crossings to Latin America by the Zeppelin aircraft. Test flights in 1930 and 31 were followed by the first scheduled flights in April 1932. A few years later in 1936 scheduled flights to New Jersey, USA began, but the explosion of an airship on 6th May 1937 put an abrupt end to all commercial Zeppelin flights until the start of the new millennium.

Recife Guide Magazine has an article, Aviation Firsts in Recife, which describes these events in more detail.


Recife Public Archive

The tour will now head back on the direction of the Maricio Nassau Bridge, close to which we will find the Pernambuco State Public Archive. It is housed in a building that once served as a jail  and legislative chamber (1729-1855) and a legislative chamber (1729-1732). In 1855 is was made a cout of law, before serving as the public archive, post 1975.


Recife Public Library

A short walk will take us to the next stop the Gabinete Português de Leitura, a public library founded in 1850, and housed in the current building since 1912. The building was refurbished between 1939-40 following a fire.


Golden Chapel

A few meters more will take is to our next stop the Franciscan Convent of Saint Anthony and the famous Golden Chapel (Capela Dourada) The Franciscans were the first Order in the Santo Antonío district and built this convent between ‘606-1613. Between 1630-1654, following the Dutch invasion, it was adapted for military use, before later returning to it´s original use. Between 1710-1770 it was them re-designed in the baroque style, although the Golden Chapel was inaugurated earlier, in 1697.


Palace of Justice

Our next stop will be the many find buildings around Republic Square. First, the Palace of Justice designed by Italian architect Giácomo Palumbo and inaugurated in 1930. At the top of the stairway are three windows by Heinrich Moser portraying the first Brazilian Council of Aldermen (1640), under the Dutch Rule of Count Johann Mauritius van Nassau.


Recife School of Arts

Close to the Palace of Justice we find the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios, the school of art, architecture, arithmetic, geometry, reading and writing. The organisation was established in 1841, and housed in the building designed by Tibúrcio Pereira de Magalhães, from 1880.


Santa Isabel Theatre

Further around the square we come to the Santa Isabel Theatre, designed in 1841 by the French engineer Louis Leger Vauthier. The construction was finished in 1850, but only 19years later it was badly damaged by fire. Reconstruction by Tibúrcio Pereira de Mgalães was complete in 1876. He preserved the external structure, but used new architectural innovations to increase the capacity inside. It underwent further restoration in recent years. During the latest restoration state of art acoustics were installed and the theatre is now one of the best in the city, with a full cultural program of events.


Govenor´s Palace

Next stop is The Pernambuco State Governors Palace. Built between 1841-44, it later took the name Campo das Princesas after a visit by the Brazilian Royal Family in 1859. Extensions and refurbishments took place between 1892-6 and 1926-30. It has a garden by the famous designer Brule Marx.


Republic Square

Opposite the Governors Palace we will enter the Republic Square, built on the former site of the Friburgo Palace of Dutch ruler Mauritius van Nassau. The palace built in 1642 had been home to the the first Brazilian zoo and botanical garden. It was destroyed in 1769. It´s current name followed the overthrow of the empire in 1889, and is now the site of a garden by Emile Beranger (1875), which was re-designed by Brule Marx in 1936.


Baobab Tree

In one corner of the square can be found a Baobab tree from Africa. The story of this tree is told in Recife Guide Magazine, The Sacred Baobab Tree.


Legislative Assembly

We will now cross the river to our final two stops. First, the Legislative Assembly by engineer José Tiburicio Pereira de Magalães which was inaugurated in 1875.


Public School Recife

Second, the Ginásio Pernambucano by engineer José Mamede Alves Ferreira and, built between 1855-1866. It was the first public school in the state.


Bar Central

Here our tour ends. From here you can leave us, but you are also welcome to join us for lunch at Bar Central. A small bar with great character that offers excellent value for money food. One wall is decorated with an a real map of the city, others have a few old photographs.

joaquim-nabuco-memorial1You can also join us later for Tour 2: Religion, Incarceration and Independence. The two tours combined make a 1-day tour.

To book this tour, e-mail for a booking form.

This is one of several Walking Tours.

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