In 1597 the Portuguese arrived in the region to colonize the land and build a city at the mouth of the Potengi River and found great strength of the French and their allies, the local Indians. Thus, led by Captain-Mor Manuel Mascarenhas Homem – Pernambuco, they organized a major offensive and on 25 December the same year managed to move to the desired location, expelling the French.
The French were driven out, but the Indians kept attacking. On 6 January 1598 it was decided to build, initially made of wood, the Fortress of the “Reis Magos”, which was only completed as it is currently, in 1698. Today this fortress is considered the cradle of civilization Potiguar and the most important historical monument of the city.
In 1633 the fortress was taken and occupied by the Dutch, changing its name to Castle Keulen, the city being named New Amsterdam. The fortress and consequently the city, were taken over by the Portuguese definitely in 1654, returning to have the original names.
The historical documents that could attest to the foundation of the Christmas town were destroyed during the Dutch occupation period, but today most accepted version is that made peace with the Indians, Jeronimo de Albuquerque, founded on 25 December 1599, half a league above the fortress, which would be called Natal Town (named after the date). This date is accepted as virtually certain, because it was on this day that were inaugurated the parish church and the pillory of the city.
In the twentieth century, Natal had great strategic importance because of its geographical position at the corner of Brazil and the nearest point of Africa and Europe, the republican movement in the Revolution of 1930, and especially during World War 2nd, from 1942 when the Americans set up a naval base in Natal and an air base in Parnamirim (near Natal), which made its population of about 55,000 inhabitants almost doubled and the locals assume many American customs.
On November 23, 1935, Natal was also the scene of a unique experience in Brazil: the installation of a communist government. A “Popular Revolutionary Committee” was set, almost without a fight, the residence of the governor (then the Potiguar Vila), the paper “The Freedom” and directed manifesto to the people. At the end of four days, when he received news that the resistance was coming from Recife and Paraiba, said committee withdrew strategically.
On January 24, 1943, the Natal hosted the historic meeting between President Getulio Vargas and Franklin Roosevelt.
According says the Potiguar people, the term “Forro” (regional popular music) comes originally from the Americans, who during his stay in the city, introduced the open balls with the name of “for all” (for all).
– History of tourism in Natal
Tourism in Natal has a much shorter history. Started shy and regionally in the 80s, but only in the 90s really developed nationally and internationally, so that in the summer of 2004/2005 was the second most popular destination for Brazilian tourists. Today the international airport receive an average of 14 international flights a week. Today more than 1 million tourists ar visiting Natal each year.