By Davi Baldussi, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The capital of Rio Grande do Norte, a state located at the extreme northeast cost of Brazil, has the blessed name of Natal (Christmas). The city boosts at least 700,000 Brazilians, and was one of the first areas of the country occupied by Portuguese colonizers in the 16th century.

Ponta Negra beach in Natal, photo by Caio R. N. Pereira/Flickr Creative Commons License.
Ponta Negra beach in Natal, photo by Caio R. N. Pereira/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Before the Portuguese came to control of what is now known as Natal though, the area was already frequented by French pirates after “pau-brasil”, the national tree of Brazil. Eventually a Portuguese expedition took possession though, lead by Mascarenhas Homem and Jerônimo de Albuquerque, who ordered the construction of a fort, named Fortaleza dos Reis Magos (Fortress of Three Wise King’s).

Not long after the construction of the fort, a small village appeared. Some say Natal received its name because the date when Jeronimo de Albuquerque took the town was December 25 (1599). Although others speculate that the city got the name because the expedition to take Natal arrived in December 25th. In-any-case, not long after in 1633, Dutch invaded the village and stayed for 21 years. During this period the city was called Natal Nova Amsterdã (New Amsterdã).

Natal, like most cities on the costs of Brazil is known for the beaches, and there are about 150 options. The favorites are Praia (beach) de Ponta Negra, Morro do Careca, that has a hill of sand 120m high surrounded by green vegetation. Seen from a distance it looks like a huge child’s slide made of sand that ends in the beach waters.

Another recommend beach to visit, especially for a family, is Praia do Forte, due to its calm waters. Sand is very abundant in Natal and it’s dunes are a separate attraction in their own right. Visitors can rent jeeps and dune-buggies, and even camels rides are offered.

Forte dos Reis Magos (Fortress of Three Wise King’s), photo by Rogério Monteiro.
Forte dos Reis Magos (Fortress of Three Wise King’s), photo by Rogério Monteiro.

Besides the sun, sand and beach, visitors in Natal should also take a look at the artisan works in Potiguar Shopping, with 212 stores, and filled with hand-crafted souvenirs. Another rainy-day activity is the Memorial of Câmara Cascudo, perhaps the greatest writer born in Rio Grande do Norte.

The Northeast region of Brazil is well known for it’s cuisine, and one of the most famous foods is the Tapioca, which is made of manioc flour. Tapioca was invented by the Indians who first lived here who ate pure Tapioca, today Brazilians add cheese, chicken, and many other ingredients.

Natal is a long way north of Rio de Janeiro and a plane ticket from Rio to Natal start around R$700. Here are some options to stay in Natal:

Av. da Praia, 3398 – Ponta Negra – Natal/RN – CEP: 59.094-100
Fone: 84 3219-2131 / Fax: 84 3219-2350

Av. Eng. Roberto Freire, 3123 – Ponta Negra – Natal/RN – CEP: 59.090-000
Fone: 84 4006-4202 / Fax: 84 4006-4242

Av. Senador Dinarte Mariz, 1717 – Via Costeira Cep 59090-001 Natal – RN
Tel.: (84) 4009-9400 Fax: (84) 4009-9403

Av. Presidente Café Filho, 750 – Praia dos Artistas – Natal/RN – CEP: 59010-000
Reservas e Informações: (84) 3202-4848 / 3202-4868 – Fax: (84) 3202-5329

Rua Manoel Sátiro, 75, Ponta Negra, CEP: 59090-180
FoneFax: 84 3236-3671

R. Cel Inácio Vale, 8847 – Ponta Negra – Natal/RN – CEP: 59.090-040
Fone: 84 3646-5000 / Fax: 84 3646-5005


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