Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is the second major city in Brazil that is noted for its spectacular natural setting, Carnaval celebrations, tourist beaches, and Maracana, one of the world's largest football stadiums. Some well-known landmarks include the enormour statue of Jesus atop Corcovado mountain that has been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and Sugarloaf mountain with cable cars for sightseeing.
The city of Rio de Janeiro, founded on March 1st 1565 on the west side of Guanabara Bay, was capital of Brazil from 1763 to 1960, when it gave place to Brasília. It is 429km/267mi from São Paulo, 434km/270mi from Belo Horizonte and 521km/324mi from Vitória.
The origins of the city date back to the time between 1555 and 1567 when the Portuguese and the French, with their Indian allies, were fighting for predominance in Guanabara Bay. Portugal was attempting to conquer the whole area, as the only means of gaining control of the French colony of França Antárctica which had been founded by Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon. After the Portuguese victory the settlement was moved to the more easily defensible Morro do Castelo, which no longer exists. The town developed rapidly in the 18th century, when it became the port for the shipment of gold from the mining region, which had hitherto been transported on pack animals to Parati, Angra dos Reis and other small ports. The town's new social and economic importance was reflected in the Viceroys' decision in 1763 to transfer the seat of government of Brazil from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro.
Rio de Janeiro is famed throughout the world for the splendor and extravagance of its Carnival, which reaches its spectacular climax in the week before Good Friday and attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators.
The celebrations of Carnival (in Portuguese Carnaval) take many forms, varying from place to place. Carnival has some pagan features, but is immediately followed by Lent, a time of penitence and fasting which is an important element in the Christian calendar. In Brazil the pre-Carnival celebrations begin with the New Year; but the Carnival proper takes place on the four days from Saturday to Shrove Tuesday. The fast, during which the eating of meat is prohibited, begins, as in Europe, on Ash Wednesday. Although the Carnival is celebrated throughout the country, in Rio de Janeiro, Bahia and Recife it has developed into a gigantic tourist attraction. Bahia was the birthplace of samba and the afoxés, devotees of Afro-Brazilian cults, who parade through the streets in groups - though nowadays modern competitors like the trios elétricos (trucks carrying groups of musicians and singers) have insinuated themselves into the processions and in Pernambuco frevo music and the maracatu (a procession mingling theatrical and musical elements play an important part. It is in Rio, however, that the celebrations are at their most lavish and spectacular.
Carnival, which was introduced to Brazil from Portugal, developed out of the Entrudo, pre-Lent celebrations which originally had a boisterous and indeed violent character but later became more restrained. Around the middle of the 19th century it was the fashion to sprinkle other people with "perfumed" (i.e. evil-smelling) water or to dirty their clothes with filth.
In the early days of the Rio Carnival zé-pereira rhythms were accompanied by drums. When the celebrations became more elaborate, with carnival clubs, gaily decorated floats and dance halls, zé-pereira gave place to the sounds of the pandeiro, the cuíva, the tambourine. the reco-reco and the frigideiras (pottery or metal pots and pans which serve as percussion instruments).
Masks and fantastic disguises, such as were worn in the Carnival of the belle époque, became ever rarer after 1930 with the rapidly rising cost of living. The tricks which would be played on passers-by were much less elaborate, though still amusing. Joke articles like confetti, streamers, water bombs and stink bombs became increasingly popular.
The Sugar Loaf is perhaps Rio de Janeiro's best-known landmark. Between it and the Morro do Urubu is the 100 meter long Praia Vermelha ("Red Beach"). Nearby are a number of units of the Brazilian army's Military Academy and the 15m/50ft high monument to the heroes of Laguna and Dourados. From Praça General Tibúrcio a cableway runs up to the top of the Morro da Urca (215m/705ft), from which a second cableway runs to the summit of the Sugar Loaf (394m/1293ft).
Teatro João Caetano
São Francisco de Paula
Campo da Santana
Estação Dom Pedro II
Museum of History and Diplomacy
Morro da Urca (Morro Cara de Cão)
Tijuca National Park
Copacabana Palace Hotel
Ilha de Paquetá
Quinta da Boa Vista
Fauna Museum (Zoo)
Museum of First Reign
Museu Chácara do Céu
Ipanema & Leblon
The beaches of Ipanema and Leblon, along which run Avenidas Vieira Souto and Delfim Moreira, are separated by the Jardim de Alá Canal, which drains the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. Along the seafront promenade are large hotels, sidewalk cafés and restaurants; and in addition these two districts of the city have a lively cultural life. In Praça General Osório in Ipanema is the Saracuras Fountain (by Mestre Valentim, 1795), and in this square is held Feirarte I, a fair for the sale of antiques, craft products, pictures, etc. In Praça de Quental in Leblon there is an antiques market every Sunday.