Brazil’s tropical playground is an area known as the northeast that encompasses nine states that between them cover an area larger than the UK, Germany, France and Italy combined.
Natal, the capital of Rio Grande do Norte, was founded on Christmas Day 1599 and first christened Santiago, it was later renamed ‘Natal’, which is Portuguese for Christmas. It was also briefly called New Amsterdam after the Dutch occupied it in 1633. The city’s most famous landmark is the star-shaped Forte dos Reis Magos (Three Kings Fort), while the city’s most popular beach, with a wide variety of hotels, bars, and restaurants, is Ponta Negra.
The city became a major US and Allied base during Word War II, and was used as the major hub for shipping supplies from the US across the Atlantic to Africa and up into Europe, or other areas of conflict. Many ex-servicemen have fond memories of their time in Natal.
Many of the attractions of Natal are outside the city, including to the north the giant sand dunes. 50 miles to the south is Pipa. Pipa is a laidback, relaxed beach resort that is also an ecological reserve. It is made up of a number of attractive beaches, including Praia de Amor, which is known for its dolphins. Also popular is the more peaceful Tibau de Sul.
The city has built a brand new stadium for the World Cup, the 42,000 seat Estadio das Dunas, which is named after and has a roof looking like the famous sand dunes. The stadium, which replaced the Machadão, will host four group matches.
Estadio das Dunas – Schedule:
Friday, 13 June, 13.00 (Mexico x Cameroon)
Monday, 16 June, 19.00 (Ghana x USA)
Thursday, 19 June, 19.00 (Greece x Japan)
Tuesday, 24 June, 13.00 (Uruguay x Italy)