An important cultural landmark in an unexpected place – the Casa da Cultura in Recife is a prison turned artisanal crafts market located in the city’s center. Built on the waterfront in 1850s, the three-wing prison maintained it’s original structure when it was repurposed into a cultural center and craft fair in the 1970s.
Today, the former prison cells have been converted into small shops selling colorful crafts that are typical in the region. The interior is donned with traditional northeastern folkloric art and decorations, and the region’s favorite musical genres, like frevo and forró, ring through the halls. The grounds outside have been converted to host concerts, as well as a space for food vendors, who sell northeastern treats like bolo de rolo (guava-swirl cake) and stuffed tapioca pancakes.
The Casa da Cultura is not only one of the best places to get one-of-a-kind souvenirs in Recife, but is also a taste of Northeastern traditions. The colorful, unique culture of the tropical northeast is distinctive from the rest of Brazil – this is manifested in the art, music, food and crafts that visitors will find at the Casa da Cultura.
The House of Culture is located at Rua Floriano Peixoto s/n in the neighborhood of Santo Antonio in Recife. It is open Monday–Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays until 6 p.m. and Sundays until 2 p.m. Admission is free.