The neighborhood of Recife (aka Recife Antigo) is the historical section of central Recife. It is located on the Island of Recife, near the Recife harbor. This historic area has been recently recovered and now holds several clubs, bars and the high-tech center Porto Digital. At the easternmost point is the Rio Branco Plaza, where the famous Marco Zero is located.
The Recife neighborhood cropped up in the first half of the 16th century due to being near the port (not to be confused with the more recent Suape Port), where Brazilwood, sugar and other products left the country for Europe. Today, it’s used mainly for cargo ships and cruises but historically it is the reason the city of Recife even exists in the here and now.
“Historically, the port has been the main reason of the foundation of the village of Recife back in the 16th century. The history of the port is deeply linked to the economic rise, social-economic and cultural development of the city, the state and the Northeast region of Brazil; for being the main point of trade in goods and supplies to another states. In the 16th century, the increasing movement of import, production and export of sugar, emerged along the vicinity of the port bringing the pioneer European settlers to live exclusively from commerce.”
It wasn’t until the 1980s, when the Suape Port began to be built, that the neighborhood started to lose its luster. Its residents went to live in other areas and civic investments came to a stop. By 1994, restauration projects had started and slowly the government realized the historic and touristic importance of the island. Today, aside from only 600 people calling the neighborhood their home, there are many reasons to visit Recife Antigo and I’ve written about a lot of them here on my blog (Rua do Bom Jesus, the first synagogue of the Americas, Porto Digital, the Capibaribe river, and the monthly event Recife Antigo de Coração).
For a good read in Portuguese on the history and importance of the Recife neighborhood, go here.