The beautiful historical city of Olinda, placed on a hill, overlooking Recife and the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the largest and best-preserved colonial cities in Brazil. Founded in 1537 and the capital of the province of Pernambuco untill 1630. During the Dutch period the city of Recife became the new capital of the province, this protected Olinda against rapid growth and modernizing as in Recife. Olinda is under the protection of the UNESCO since 1982 and the historical part of the city has been completely restored.
The whole city center is one big museum. Narrow paved streets with houses and churches dating from the 16th and 17th century. Olinda is not very big and is easy to explore by foot. From the top of the hills you have an magnificent view over the crystal clear water of the ocean and Recife. Recife is the economic center of the state and Olinda the cultural center, where many artist have settled down. Besides the many colonial churches, there is the Museo de Arte Contemporânea, recommended for its permanent and temporary exhibits. The museum is housed in an 18th century jail, used by the Catholics during the Inquisition. If you want to slow down and relax you can always go to one of the many beaches.
Compared to Olinda, Recife is a busy city with modern buildings, but also some colonial houses and churches from the 17th century. Two formal Dutch forts are situated in Recife: Fort Brum and Forte dos cinco Pontas. The last one offers a small exposition about the Dutch colonial period. You can visit Itamararacá, an island about 50 kilometers north of Recife. Here you can visit another Dutch fort; Forte Orange. Forte Orange was build by the Dutch in 1630 to defend themselves against the attacks of the Portuguese.