Rio de Janeiro, Marvelous City, City of God, etc. Those are just a few names one could use for the most popular Brazilian metropolis – a bustling hub of more than 12 million inhabitants. Often mistaken for the largest South American country’s capital (Brasilia is), Rio certainly is best-known of all Brazilian cities. To be fair, it used to be the capital before Brasilia’s construction in 1960, and as such features quite a few landmarks one shouldn’t pass up visiting if given the opportunity.
When I went to Scotland to do another movie, I would sing with a coach up there and then when I went to New York I sang with a coach over there-I mean I’ve now sung with coaches in LA, New York, London, Glasgow, St Louis and Rio de Janeiro!
– via Gerard Butler
The best-known Landmarks of Rio de Janeiro
All major landmarks of Rio de Janeiro start from Christ the Redeemer. Giant 98 feet statue atop the Corcovado mountain watches over the city as guardian would. One of 7 modern wonders of the world, Christ the Redeemer has been completed in 1931 and it’s currently one of the most visited landmarks in the world with close to 2 million visits annually. It’s best to be an early bird – especially during the rainy season when clouds loom rather low to the ground. The best way to get there is by train, but adventurers are always welcome to hit the stairs – if they dare, that is.
Another one of Rio de Janeiro’s most famous landmarks is Sugarloaf Mountain located on a peninsula in Botafogo Bay. This natural landmark is accessible by cable car which offers an imposing view of Sugarloaf Mountain’s surroundings. Needless to say, the view only gets better when you actually arrive on the mountain, so this is a must-see landmark while in Rio.
Copacabana – the biggest beach in the world
Next one of the landmarks of Rio de Janeiro is Copacabana. One of the most famous beaches in the world maybe doesn’t boast the cleanest of waters, but certainly emanates the unique atmosphere. With more than 2 miles in length – it’s easy to figure out that Copacabana offers a plethora of activities besides swimming and sunbathing. It’s especially known for beach volleyball and beach soccer, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Since we’re mentioning Rio de Janeiro’s beaches, we should number the rest of prominent candidates for the city’s best beach.
Ipanema is just around the corner from Copacabana, and it too is on the long side. Then there’s Praia da Barra da Tijuca which stretches for no less than 8 miles, and few smaller ones like Praia Vermelha, Praia de Botafogo and Praia de Leblon.
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Everyone knows that soccer plays a large part in the everyday life of a common Brazilian. That’s why soccer stadiums of Rio de Janeiro deserve special treatment as some of the city’s most important landmarks. Let us start with one of the world’s best-known such venues – Maracana. The largest Brazilian soccer stadium is used by the national team, and Rio’s arch-rivals Flamengo and Fluminense. Botafogo’s Olimpico Joao Havelange and Vasco da Gama’s Estadio Sao Januario could be interesting sites as well – especially during the match day.
Landmarks of Rio de Janeiro don’t necessarily have to be as strict as we’ve presented them thus far. Whole neighborhoods of this city can qualify for landmarks themselves. The city’s historical center certainly makes this list thanks to attractions such as Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Cathedral, Colonial Cathedral, Candelaria Church, National Museum of Fine Arts, National Library, National Museum, and many more.
Neighborhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa too deserve a spot on this list. Former personifies colonial Portuguese architecture, while the latter offers more contemporary buildings and generally friendly atmosphere.
We’ll conclude this Landmarks of Rio de Janeiro list with Tijuca Forest. This is the world’s largest urban rainforest and part of Tijuca National Park. This is the greenest part of Rio and a perfect spot for everyone who decides to escape the urban surroundings for a few moments. Cascatinha Waterfall, Lago da Fada, and several accessible caves are just a number of forest’s attractions.
Rio’s beaches have long seduced visitors. Copacabana Beach became a symbol of Rio during the 1940s when international starlets would jet in for the weekend. Hogging the spotlight these days is Ipanema Beach, its fame and beauty unabated since bossa nova stars Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes introduced the world to its allure in the 1960s.
For Cariocas (residents of Rio), the beach is Rio’s backyard – a playground that’s free and open to all, offering endless enjoyment in the form of football, volleyball, surfing, snacking, drinking, or simply relaxing amid the passing parade of people.
Rio is an energetic, vibrant place, full of beauty and nature. But we face the kinds of problems any developing metropolis does – with pollution, traffic congestion, poverty. Distribution of green areas, for example, is not uniform. Madureira, the heart of the suburb in Rio, is a concrete jungle.– via Eduardo Paes
The Rhythms of Rio
Music is the lifeblood of Rio, with a soundtrack comprising rock, old-school bossa nova, hip-hop, funk and Brazil’s many regional styles. Above all, there’s samba, a rapid-fire style of music with African influences and an infectious beat that is synonymous with Rio. You can hear it all over town, but the soul of samba resides in Lapa, an edgy red-light district that is home to dozens of live-music halls and an enormous weekend street party that draws revelers from all walks of life.
Samba is also the integral sound during Carnaval, and the danceable backing music to street parties and all-night parades.
Recap – a place that you must to visit
When all is said and done, it’s easy to see why Rio de Janeiro is one of the world’s most attractive cities and biggest tourist attractions in the whole of South America. It’s also unfair not to mention the Rio Carnival which usually takes place between mid-February and early March every year. Visited by close to million tourists, Rio Carnival is an attraction for itself – although not exactly a landmark.
Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics, thus incorporating new, modern sports battlefields as attractions into its already large base of landmarks. It’s an exciting time to be in Rio, and you might consider doing so before the games themselves because prices are bound to soar by then.
Why I Love Rio de Janeiro
There’s no other place like Rio. It’s a combination of many things that I find so captivating: walking through parks inside the city and seeing monkeys and toucans; spending the evening catching music jams around Lapa; joining a few friends amid the roaring crowds at Maracanã, or greeting the sunrise (after an early morning or late night) from Copacabana Beach.
In moments like these, you realize you’re hooked. I also love the carioca spirit: spontaneous and good-natured, with the urge to live life to the fullest.