City Orientation Walk, Recife (Self Guided)

In addition to the many rivers, bridges and peninsulas making up most of what's unique about Recife, the main city of the Brazilian state Pernambuco is also famous for its historic downtown area originated in the 16th century. Follow this orientation walk and learn about the past and present of this exiting destination!
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Brazil » Recife (See other walking tours in Recife)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Author: alice
1
Marco Zero

1) Marco Zero (must see)

Here is where Recife started because it was the most suitable spot to construct a port. Later, from here the whole city grew, so Marco Zero is considered the heart of Recife. The square is surrounded by buildings with stunning architecture. The place is used by locals for different festivals and other social events during the year. From Marco Zero you can see the Recife from where the name of the city originated, as well as the Parque de Esculturas (Sculptures Park) by Francisco Brennand, a famous Brazilian artist. There are some boats on location that can take you closer to the Sculptures Park.

Why You Should Visit:
A great starting point to visit Recife, besides being the place where all the action happens during carnivals and also the major concerts, demonstrations...

Tip:
Go in the late afternoon and watch the sunset followed by dusk, with the city lights sparkling. The weather is milder, so take the time to walk, pedal or skate.
During the day, check out the artisan shop right on the square that has great handcrafts at very reasonable prices.
2
Sinagoga Kahal Zur Israel

2) Sinagoga Kahal Zur Israel (must see)

Kahal Zur Israel, located in Recife, was the first Jewish congregation in the New World. It was established by immigrants from the Netherlands and joined by New Christians who were already living in the colony. There is now a museum on this site of the oldest synagogue site in the Americas.

From 1636 to 1654, the synagogue functioned on the site of the houses no. 197 and 203 Rua do Bom Jesus. It flourished in the mid-17th century when the Dutch briefly controlled this part of northeastern Brazil. The original synagogue building survived until the early 20th century when it was torn down. The site has been confirmed by an archaeological excavation. In 2001 the decision was made to create a Jewish museum in two story house with two shops located on the first floor then standing on the site of the old synagogue. The synagogue served a community of approximately 1,450 Jews. It had a cantor, Josue Velosino, and a rabbi, Isaac Aboab da Fonseca, sent to Recife in 1642.

The museum, built to resemble synagogues built in the 17th and 18th centuries by Jews from Spain and Portugal, opened in 2001. The synagogue is also at the center of a broader cultural renaissance. In November of every year, a Jewish festival offering dance, cinema, and food, from gefilte fish to fluden, attracts around 20,000 visitors.

Why You Should Visit:
To see a beautiful reconstruction of this first synagogue and watch informative videos.
All items shown including the educational part on the first floor are very well presented and you can spend plenty of time taking it all or just enjoying the beautiful historic atmosphere.

Tip:
Start on the top floor for the short movie that tells the history of Jews in Recife.
On the first floor, everything is written both in Portuguese and English, while upstairs it is just English so remember to also ask for an English brochure.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Fri: 9am-4:30pm; Sun: 2-5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Praça Artur Oscar

3) Praça Artur Oscar

Praça Artur Oscar (formerly Praça Arsenal) is a popular place for dates and fun outings during evenings in Recife. The square has the bust of Admiral Tamandaré, who is a famous hero of the Brazilian Navy, a fountain and many social and entertainment events during the year, including the Carnival. Also, around here are located a large number of restaurants, cafes and nightclubs.
4
Malakoff Tower

4) Malakoff Tower

Malakoff Tower is a tower built between 1835 and 1855 to be used as an observatory and as the main entrance and gateway for Arsenal da Marinha square. It has been registered as a Historical Patrimony and was named after a similar monument on the Crimean peninsula, used as a defense center for Sevastopol on the Crimean war. When the arsenals of the Navy were dismantled with the beginning of the Brazilian Republic, the tower was transferred to the heritage of Recife port and then abandoned and endangered. The city population, in association with cultural institutions leadership, mobilized against the demolition, using as an example the real strength of Malakoff on the Crimean war.

The tower was renovated in 1999, keeping the old features of the Tunisian-style monument. Today, it is a cultural area and astronomical observatory. Cultural area – has the proposal involving science, art and technology. Works with exhibitions of photos, comics, among others and it is used to do popular manifestations as well. Astronomical observatory - it is one of the two astronomical observatories belonging to the space science museum. One here, at the Malakoff Tower, and the other one located in Olinda.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Teatro Apolo

5) Teatro Apolo

Teatro Apolo is the oldest theatre in Recife. It was built in 1842, in a neoclassical style by the architect Rio de Barros Lopes Joaquim Cabral and Teive. After eighteen years of work the theatre was transformed into a sugar warehouse and only its marble facade was preserved. Later the theatre was restored back to being a theatre and since 1996 has housed a live theater with performances all year long.
6
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Madre de Deus

6) Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Madre de Deus

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Madre de Deus was built in 1680 in baroque style. It is a local landmark and a stunning structure to see. The church has a beautiful façade with statues and its interior still has its original paintings. The church was designed by Antonio Fernandes de Matos. In 1971 the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Madre de Deus was damaged by a fire, but later it was restored.
7
Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Livramento

7) Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Livramento

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Livramento is a an aesthetically-intriguing church. Its contraction started in the 18th century on the site of an older chapel, but it was finished in 1882. It has a great tower of twenty-five meters, beautiful carved doors and a granite facade. The interior has intricate carvings. The ceiling was done in wood. Within the church you will see images of Our Lady of Conception and of Saint Mary Garcia.
8
Mercado do Sao Jose

8) Mercado do Sao Jose

Mercado do Sao Jose is a local public market and landmark in Recife. The structure was built in 1875 and it is representative of the architecture of European markets at the time. The building was built by J. Lieuthier Louis in a neoclassical style. It is the oldest building in Brazil made in pre-manufactured iron. The market is very large and it has two buildings and 542 boutiques within.
9
Co-Catedral São Pedro dos Clérigos

9) Co-Catedral São Pedro dos Clérigos (must see)

Catedral De Sao Pedro Dos Clerigos is a popular tourist attraction in Recife. It was built by Manuel Ferreira Jácome in 1759 using the Great Santa Maria Sanctuary in Rome as a model. The church is beautiful, with two bell towers and an amazing interior made with a neoclassical design. The ceiling is painted, the interior features carvings, while the pulpit is engraved in gold. The church itself was built in baroque style.

Why You Should Visit:
Reinaugurated in 2017, after years of restoration works, this is arguably one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Brazil, inside and out.
Sometimes they play parties on the patio in front of the Cathedral on weekends.
10
Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Homens Pretos

10) Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Homens Pretos

Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Homens Pretos is an important historic and religious site. The church was built in colonial style in the 17th century, sometime between 1662 and 1667, by the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men, which was a brotherhood of black slaves. The church is Baroque, with just a single tower, but nevertheless the church is a very beautiful one, with three altars, images of Our Lady of the Rosary and other black saints. The main altar is engraved in gold. It is a great example of the architecture of 17th century Recife. The church is located 90 m to the eaast from the intersection of Avenida Dantas Barreto and Rua Estreita do Rosário.
11
Museu Franciscano de Arte Sacra

11) Museu Franciscano de Arte Sacra (must see)

The Franciscan Museum of Sacred Art simply displays amazing religious art objects. Among them are precious images, pictures, candleholders, candles, furniture, an altar, a crucifix dating to 1751 and many other fascinating objects. The museum is established within the adjacent Convent of St. Anthony, in the famous Golden Chapel of Recife (Capela Dourada), a magnificent colonial baroque church built in 1697.

Why You Should Visit:
Formidable edifice. Lots of gold. Guide on the spot.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-5pm; Sat: 8-11:30am
12
Palácio da Justiça

12) Palácio da Justiça

Palácio da Justiça is another famous tourist attraction and historic sight in Recife. The structure was built in 1930 in Renaissance style with fascinating stained glass windows. The building has several levels and a beautiful dome which is the highest dome in the country. In front of the building there are two striking sculptures representing law and justice. Within the building there are busts of local lawyers and paintings by Murillo La Greca. Palácio da Justiça houses the Court of Justice of Pernambuco.
13
Teatro de Santa Isabel

13) Teatro de Santa Isabel (must see)

A very beautiful Neoclassical structure built in 1850 by Louis Léger Vauthier, Teatro de Santa Isabel is a place for the most prestigious social and cultural events of Recife and the home of the Recife Symphony Orchestra. The interior of the theater is extraordinarily rich. It has amazing crystal mirrors, works of Murillo La Greca, an outstanding crystal chandelier and busts of famous personalities within. Numerous celebrities have visited the famous theater.

Why You Should Visit:
There is history and charm in every corner of this building!

Tip:
Guided tours on Sundays, but do check their website for schedules of visits and of performances.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-8pm; Sat-Sun: 9am-10pm
14
Palacio do Campo das Princesas

14) Palacio do Campo das Princesas

The Palacio do Campo das Princesas is a neoclassical structure built in 1841 by Mitchell Anchor on the site of the former Royal Treasury. The Palace was always the headquarters of the Pernambuco administration. The name of the palace came from the family of the Emperor Dom Pedro II and his children that played in the garden. The site is famous for its beautiful garden with baobab trees. The Palacio do Campo das Princesas is one of the most popular tourist stops in Recife.

Walking Tours in Recife, Brazil

Create Your Own Walk in Recife

Create Your Own Walk in Recife

Creating your own self-guided walk in Recife is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Bairro do Recife Walk

Bairro do Recife Walk

Recife is an old city and the Bairro do Recife is one of the oldest parts of it. When the city was established in 16th century, Bairro do Recife was the original settlement and the entire city grew from there. The sights, architectural views and attractions within this neighborhood are striking. Take this walk to see some of the most remarkable spots in the Bairro do Recife.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
Recife History Museums Walk

Recife History Museums Walk

Recife is a city with a very rich culture due to its inhabitants, local Indians, slaves and settlers, as well as Dutch people who had a colony here for about twenty years. As a result, the museums that can be enjoyed in this city are diverse and very interesting, especially those telling the history of the place. Take this walk that will lead you to the most interesting and famous history museums...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 km
Recife Religious Sights Walk

Recife Religious Sights Walk

Recife is a beautiful city with a large number of fascinating churches. The majority of them were built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Here is a walk to see some of the most beautiful and well-known religious sites in Recife's downtown.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Bairro Santo Antonio Walk in Recife

Bairro Santo Antonio Walk in Recife

Santo Antonio is a beautiful part of old Recife. It has some very interesting and fascinating tourist attractions, striking sights, historical and architectural views, old churches and picturesque squares. Take this walk to see some of the most popular tourist attractions of Santo Antonio in Recife.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Recife for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Recife has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Recife, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.