The area around Recife was one of the first in Brazil to be settled by the Portuguese Crown. In 1537, John III of Portugal divided Brazil into Hereditary Captaincies (Capitanias Hereditárias, in Portuguese); the Portuguese realized that they had no human or financial resources to invest in such a large and distant colony, and decided to assign this task to private entrepreneurs, called Donatários (this system had already been successful in the settlement of the Portuguese colonies in Africa).
    Because of several problems (the most obvious being the lack of support from the Portuguese metropolis), most Captaincies failed. One of the few to prosper was the Captaincy of Pernambuco, which was assigned to Duarte Coelho Pereira (the man who founded Olinda (which has its historic town center considered world heritage site by Unesco and became famous for expressing his enchantment with the beauty of the place, giving the name to the city).

Golden Chapel

This is one of the most beautiful baroque style churches in the country. Built between the 18th and 19th century, it displays an altar with gold covered engravings and beautiful paintings on the ceiling. It is integrated to a complex of buildings erected by the Franciscans, and it also has a convent, with religious tiled panels and the Franciscan Museum of Sacred Art, with a collection of images and sacred objects.


Olinda is a historic city in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, located on the country's northeastern Atlantic Ocean coast, just north of Recife and south of Paulista. It is one of the best-preserved colonial cities in Brazil. The city's name can be interpreted as an exclamation regarding the beauty of its setting ("Ó, linda!" is Portuguese for "Oh, beautiful!"). Olinda features a number of major touristic attractions, such as a historic downtown area (World Heritage Site), churches, and the Carnival of Olinda.

Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago of 21 islands and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, around 354 km (220 miles) offshore from the Brazilian coast. The main island has an area of 18.4 square kilometres (7.1 sq mi) and had a population of 3,012 in the year 2008. The area is a special municipality (distrito estadual) of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its timezone is UTC-2h. The local population and travellers can get to Noronha by plane or cruise from Recife (545km) or by plane from Natal (360km). A small environmental preservation fee is charged from tourists upon arrival by Ibama (Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources).
This mixture of Portuguese, (native) Indians and black slaves would be enough to make Recife one of the most culturally diverse cities in Brazil. The Dutch added to the mix. From 1580 to 1640, the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal were unified under the rule of the former. Spain was engaged in a war against the Netherlands, and determined that the Dutch, who were the main distributors of Brazilian sugar in Europe, would be prohibited from coming to Brazil. The Dutch decided to invade several sugar producing cities in Brazil, including Salvador and Natal. From 1630 to 1654, they took control of Recife and Olinda. During this period, Recife became one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world. The first Jewish community and the first synagogue in the Americas was founded in the city. The inhabitants fought on their own to expel the Dutch, being helped by the involvement of the Dutch in the First Anglo-Dutch War. This was known as the Insurreição Pernambucana (Pernambucan Insurrection). Most of the Jews fled to Amsterdam; others fled to North America, starting the first Jewish community of New Amsterdam (now known as New York City).
    During the 18th century, riots spread throughout the city, in which the rich farmers of Olinda and the traders from Recife clashed. Recife had a clear advantage in relation to Olinda: Olinda has no harbour, while Recife's Harbor is one of the largest on the Atlantic. Recife's victory asserted the supremacy of its bourgeoisie over the decadent sugar aristocrats of Olinda. This was a decisive factor for Recife's growth. Recife is now a large city whereas Olinda is a small historical town. Recife is an historical city, distinguished by the opulence of its colonial buildings, with its colonization rooted in different nations; Portugal, the Netherlands, France, England.

Fort Orange

On 1 September 1534 the King of Portugal created the "capitania" of Itamaracá, it was gave to the donatarian Pero Lopez de Sousa. This "capitania" extended over 30 "leguas" of coast: between the Santa Cruz Canal and Baia de Traição.

In this "capitania" was founded one of the first Brazilian settlements: Vila da Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Itamaracá (today Vila Velha). During the Dutch occupation Itamaracá reveled in wealth with Recife and Olinda. Fort Orange was built by the Dutch in 1631 (the project was by the engineer Pieter Van Bueren), the fortress is located by seaside and shelters a collection composed by Dutch maps and pieces from the Dutch period.

Porto de Galinhas Beach

After Brazil’s discovery and the beginning of colonization by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the region now known as Porto de Galinhas was important for the felling and subsequent exportation from of Brazil wood from the town’s natural harbour. In the 17th century it became a centre for the production and exportation of sugar to Europe and became known as Porto Rico (“Rich Port“). During the period of the slave trade and especially after its abolition in1850, slaves illegally smuggled from Africa and hidden under crates of guinea fowl were landed in Porto Rico. The arrival of these slaves was announced using the sentence “There are new chickens in Porto”. The region eventually became known as “Porto das Galinhas” (“chicken Port”) and continues to be known as such until today. The beach of Porto de Galinhas, 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Recife, has been repeatedly awarded the title of best beach in Brazil and has drawn many tourists.

Pernambuco prospered from the sugarcane industry (beet sugar was not industrially produced in Europe until the beginning of the 19th century). At the time, in Europe, sugarcane plantations could be grown only in Andalusia and the Algarve; in the 1420s, sugarcane was carried to the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores; the sugar from Brazil was very much appreciated in Europe. Duarte Coelho found in Pernambuco plenty of fertile land and an excellent climate for the cultivation of cane; all he needed was labor to work the crops and to keep the "engenhos" (rustic wooden machinery) moving.
At first, the Portuguese tried to use the indigenous peoples of Brazil, but since Portugal was the country with the strongest black slave market because of their previous expeditions to Africa, not only using black slaves would be easier to handle, but it would be cheaper as well; from the 16th to the 19th century, Pernambuco received many slaves, making it one of the Brazilian States where black culture has the most visible traces (in dance, music, culinary, etc).

Second International Workshop on Ultracold Rydberg Physics

23-26 March, 2014
Atlante Plaza Hotel
Boa Viagem Beach, Recife, Brazil

Second International Workshop on Ultracold Rydberg Physics

5-8 October, 2014
Transamérica Prestige Beach Class International Hotel
Boa Viagem Beach, Recife, Brazil