3 cultural attractions you mustn’t miss in Recife

Capital of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, Recife is a city that has done a lot to modernize and make itself more attractive to visitors. From the Cais do Sertão Museum to the Paço do Frevo, its proximity to the neighbouring city of Olinda and the ever-present sound of frevo and maracatu, there is no shortage of artistic reasons for getting to know Recife. Here, then, are three of Recife’s cultural attractions that you really should not miss.
Paço do Frevo
The Praça do Arsenal is home to two highly recommended attractions in Recife. Paço do Frevo is a cultural space “dedicated to the diffusion, research, leisure, and training of frevo dance and music, with the aim of passing on the practice to future generations”. It begins with a challenge: “experience the Pernambuco Carnival all year round”.

This is because frevo, recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, is the principal rhythm behind the Carnival in the State of Pernambuco, which naturally includes the cities of Recife and Olinda.

Now, while I cannot dance frevo, I did spend my time wisely and visited the different rooms in the Paço do Frevo in Old Recife – especially because admission is free.

Right next door is another of the Praça do Arsenal’s cultural attractions: the Mamulengo Theatre. This is another must-see attraction.
Mamulengo Theatre
Outside the Mamulengo Theatre Restaurant every afternoon there is a small theatre with traditional dolls.

As a fan of different  culture, the Mamulengo Theatre caught my attention as I researched alternative cultural events in the city. The dolls, the theatre, and the associated tradition seemed good enough reasons to take in one of the shows.
And it was certainly worth it!
Cais do Sertão Museum
Cais do Sertão was my first stop in downtown Recife, better known as Old Recife. This was once as a somewhat neglected and unsafe part of the city, with decaying buildings and a very vibrant nightlife. However, I found something altogether different when I arrived in Old Recife.

The streets are clean, there are lots of families out and about, and there are cultural outlets I did not recognize, all due to the renovation of the Port of Recife’s warehouses which have been given a new lease on life. The bold architectural project that is the Cais do Sertão Museum is one such example.

Constructed in 2018, this is an interactive museum about the Sertão – the interior of northeast Brazil – which focuses on the life and work of the artist Luiz Gonzaga. It is a homage to the “King of Baião”, the iconic figure of the popular culture of the Pernambuco interior.

It’s worth visiting, touching, experiencing. And not just to embarrass yourself in the karaoke booths as you try to sing some Sertaneja tunes. It is great fun!
By Filipe Morato Gomes / Alma de Viajante

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