Tourism and Culture

Tourism In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tourism In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is a huge seaside city in Brazil, famed for its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, 38m Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado and for Sugarloaf Mountain, a granite peak with cable cars to its summit. The city is also known for its sprawling favelas (shanty towns). Its raucous Carnaval festival, featuring parade floats, flamboyant costumes and samba dancers, is considered the world’s largest.

The Corcovado

The Corcovado is the name given to the 2,330 ft mountain located in central Rio de Janeiro in the Tijuca Forest national park. Meaning “hunchback” in Portuguese, Corcovado is one of the city’s symbols as not only can it be viewed from great distances but it is also home to the iconic, 125 ft statue of Jesus (Cristo Redentor – Christ the Redeemer) perched on its top. Over 300,000 people visit the Corcovado viewing platform and statue each year, which can be accessed by the 2.4 mile Rack Railway. The 20 minute ride is made in one of three electrically powered trains, depositing you below the observation deck which can then be reached by elevators or by foot up 223 steps. Once on the top, you are afforded a breathtaking panoramic view of Rio, the neighboring Sugarloaf Mountain, the city’s famous Copacabana beach and a number of favelas. It is advisable to visit the Corcovado on a clear day as clouds may obscure the fabulous views.

Copacabana Beach

The beach best associated with Rio de Janeiro is undoubtedly Copacabana Beach – a 4 km stretch of sand hugging the Atlantic, flanked by two forts on either side and running parallel to one of the world’s most famous promenades. Copacabana is actually the name of the neighborhood (or bairro) in Rio’s south zone, beginning at Princesa Isabel Avenue and ending at Postos Seis (watchtower six). The historical forts – Fort Copacabana and Fort Duque de Caxias – mark the north and south ends of the beach. Beyond Copacabana beach lie the other smaller but no less famous beaches such as Diabo (Devil) Beach and the ultimate surfer’s destination, Arpoador Beach. The promenade was first created in 1930 with its distinct black and white geometric design paving, and was rebuilt in the 70s. Multiple hotels, bars, night clubs, apartment buildings and restaurants dot the promenade, and the area attracts millions of visitors each year. The stretch of beach is unofficially divided according to the groups who populate it. A rainbow flag demarcates the ‘gay’ area of the beach, while other areas are popular among favela kids, retirees, families with kids, fisherman and more.

Rio de Janeiro Cathedral

The famous Rio de Janeiro Cathedral, dedicated to the city’s patron Saint Sebastian, was built between 1964 and 1979 and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio Janeiro.  The church, which is also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian or the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, was designed by Edgar Fonseca in a very distinct style based on the Mayan architectural pyramid. It is conical in shape and is over 246 ft. high, with an internal diameter measurement of 315 ft.  The impressive interior boasts four rectilinear stained glass windows which reach over 200 ft. from floor to ceiling.  During the day, sunlight is projected in stunning colors through these windows, creating a mystical ambiance. 48 bronze plaques with bas-reliefs symbolize the topic of faith through different motifs. The church can accommodate 20,000 people, making it one of the largest places of worship in Brazil.

In the basement of the Rio de Janeiro Cathedral is housed the Sacred Art Museum (Museu de Arte Sacra), which holds a collection of murals, sculptures and artworks. You will also be able to view fonts that were used to baptize children of the Portuguese royal family.

Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Theatre

Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Theatre (Teatro Municipal) is known as one of the most impressive theaters in Brazil. Built at the beginning of the 20th century in an eclectic style, the theatre is located in Cinelandia in the city’s center, near the National Library and the National Fine Arts Museum.  In 1894, the Brazilian playwright Arthur Azevedo launched a campaign to construct a new building for theatrical performances, but it wasn’t until 1905 that work began on the Paris Opera-inspired theatre. In 1909, the theatre was inaugurated by President Nilo Pecanha. Over the years, it has undergone a number of upgrades and restorations, and in 1996 an annex building was added.

The Teatro Municipal has its outside walls inscribed with the names of classic European and Brazilian artists. Its interior is just as opulent, featuring paintings by Eliseu Visconti (who also designed the magnificent drop curtain) and Rodolfo Amoedo.  Sculptures by Henrique Bernardelli also flank the interior. You will also be impressed by the nave ceiling, the foyer ceiling decorations and the frieze on the proscenium.

Ipanema Beach

Adjacent to the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro is Ipanema Beach, within the distinct and upmarket neighborhood of Ipanema. The beach is characterized by the two mountains – the Dois Irmaos, or Two Brothers – which rise at its western end. The beach is demarcated into segments by lifeguard towers, and attracts sun-worshippers and sports fans who gather to play football and volleyball on the sand. Other popular sports enjoyed are surfing, body boarding and skim boarding. Ipanema has a reputation for being the “sexiest beach in the world”, and was made famous by the Antonio Carlos Jobim’s song Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema). Beer and other locally brewed alcohol is sold in abundance on the beach, while multiple vendors also sell everything from chairs to coconut water.

Church of our Lady Candelaria

One of Rio de Janeiro’s top attractions is the Church of our Lady Candelaria, which was built over a long span of time, beginning in 1775 and ending in the late 19th century. The church is notable for its Baroque façade and different interior architectural elements, combining Neoclassical and Neo-Renaissance styles. It is presumed that the church was inspired by the churches of Convent of Mafra and the Estrela Basilica of Lisbon. The interior of the church boasts stunning frescoes by the Brazilian painter Joao Zeferina da Costa, while the paintings on the internal dome depict images of the Virgin Mary and her virtues such as charity, faith and hope. The main altar was created by the Brazilian architect Archimedes Memoria, while the bronze doors of the main entrance were made by the Portuguese sculptor Antonia Teixeira Lopes.

Legend has it that at the beginning of the 1600s, a group of Spaniards built a small chapel to give thanks for surviving a sinking ship. They dedicated the church to Our Lady of Candelaria, and it remained a place of worship until the second half of the 18th century when the construction of a new and larger building was commissioned.  The baroque façade was built from 1775 to 1881, however it took much longer, until 1877, for the interior and the domes to be completed.  Over the years, the church has been expanded and renovated, although the 18thcentury façade has been preserved.

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