Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Last updated: Decembre 21, 2020

The former capital of Brazil remains the country’s main attraction, whether for a seaside holiday or as a cultural destination. However, security is an issue and you should not go just anywhere. Provided you exercise normal vigilance, these ten places will show you the essentials without taking too many risks.

01. Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio was designed by the French sculptor Paul Landowski between 1922 and 1931. The statue is 30 meters high and stands on a 700-meter hilltop above Guanabara Bay. From being a religious symbol, it has become a popular tourist attraction despite the limited space on the platform at the top.

02. Sugarloaf Mountain

Since 1912, a cable car has reached the top of Pão de Açúcar at 396 meters above the bay. The route is in two sections with a stop at Morro da Urca, which can also be climbed on foot. From the top it is possible to identify the different neighbourhoods of the city and realize how much it is fractioned by these granite bars like the one we are standing on.

03. Copacabana

Rio’s legendary beach, the first when leaving the bay and therefore open to the ocean, which due to pollution has become a major advantage. There is the sand burning in the sun, but also the seafront promenade with its characteristic mosaic design. There is little space between the sea and the mountain, the buildings are dense and the streets narrow.

04. Ipanema

Ipanema is located just beyond Copacabana, between the sea and the Freitas lagoon. After a row of luxury buildings, the streets still have many of these small seaside houses. The atmosphere here is more relaxed than anywhere and shops are attractive. With the direct subway line to the city centre, it is the ideal place to stay in Rio (plus).

05. The Botanical Garden

Founded in 1808 by the royal family near Ipanema, the garden opened its doors to the public in 1822. It consists of a vast park secured by an entrance fee and armed guards. Tourists can take out their cameras without apprehension. The alleys are shaded by tall imperial palm trees, there is a beautiful collection of cacti.

06. The Imperial Palace

Dating from the 18th century, it was first the residence of the Governor, then the Viceroy, and finally the royal family of Portugal when they took refuge in Brazil after the Napoleonic invasion. Today the palace serves as a cultural centre mainly oriented towards contemporary art. Emptied of its historical content, visitors must go to Petrópolis to rediscover the grandeur of the monarchy.

07. The Cathedral

In a break with colonial architecture and traditional churches, this immense upside-down bucket has contained Rio’s new cathedral since 1976, inspired by the Brutalist movement of the time. Unfortunately, its concrete covering is aging badly and suffers from pollution. The interior space, which can accommodate up to 20,000 people, remains impressive, however.

08. Carioca Aqueduct

Intended to bring fresh water from the River Carioca to the city centre in the 18th century, the aqueduct switched its vocation at the end of the 19th century when it welcomed the Santa Teresa tramway line. After a serious accident in 2011, the tramway has been completely renovated and now passes again at the top of the 42 robust arches, a transportation mainly for the use of tourists.

09. Selarón Steps

On his own initiative, Jorge Selarón began collecting ceramic tiles from the demolished buildings in Old Rio, decorating several places like this public staircase with 215 steps. It became a tourist attraction, and appreciative passers-by began sending him tiles from all over the world, until he was murdered in 2013 by racketeers.

10. Rocinha

Rocinha and the other favelas of Rio have been attracting tourists since they were taken back by the military police. Tourists are looking for some thrills, well supervised by guided tours in the indifference of the jaded inhabitants. These emblematic districts arouse contrasting feelings of fascination and fear, between authenticity and criminality.

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