A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012, Rio de Janeiro is known as the Cidade Maravilhosa (the Wonderful City), a true spectacle of nature, where sandy beaches, clear blue sea and mountains covered by dense tropical vegetation contrast with urban sprawl. Among the city’s many charms, and perhaps even more celebrated than the annual carnival, is the Corcovado Mountain with its Christ The Redeemer statue, which dominates a truly unique landscape
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With a number of high-profile international events scheduled for Rio, leading up to the Olympic Games in 2016, many works are being carried out throughout the city, with the harbour area in particular all set for a complete renovation. For now, the best way to discover this enchanting place is a slow meandering walk, letting all your senses be assaulted by downtown Rio.
Eat and drink
You can still enjoy an excellent coffee in the romantic and historic African Tobacco Shop
(tabacariaafricana.com), while for some fine seafood, try Albamar (albamar.com.br), set in a tower of the old Municipal Market. The restaurant on the third floor has a very tropical atmosphere, with extensive views across Guanabara Bay, where boats can be seen moving towards the direction of Niteroi. Over on Rua da Carioca, nestled among the area’s traditional stores, is the 100-year-old Bar Luiz (barluiz.com.br) where, as well as a delicious cold draft beer, you can also enjoy some traditional German cuisine.
See and do
The just-opened Art Museum of Rio (museudeartedorio.org.br), at Praça Mauá in front
of the port, houses a collection of Brazilian art and culture. In front of the museum is the Edifício “A Noite” (The Night Building). Built in 1929, it is the tallest building in South America. Along the
stunning Avenida Rio Branco, which connects Praça Mauá to the Cinelândia square, stands the Monastery of St Benedict (68 Rua D Gerardo). Founded in 1590, it’s a typical example of Brazilian baroque architecture, with columns and altars carved out of wood and covered in gold. On
Sundays, the 10am mass, held as a strict Gregorian ritual, should not be missed. Returning to Avenida Rio Branco via Praça XV, now the city’s financial centre, there are a number of unique buildings, such as number 46, the Institute of Historical and Artistic Nat ional Heritage, with its
imposing façade. Continuing your walk, you’ll find yourself in Rua Primeiro de Março where
several beautiful churches mark the presence of the Catholic religion through the history of Rio.
At Praça XV, there is another important church, Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Our Lady of Mount
Carmel), which is the Imperial Chapel and the old Cathedral of Rio, where D João VI was crowned
King of Portugal on 10 March 1816. D Pedro I and D Pedro II, the two Emperors of Brazil, were
also crowned in this Cathedral, and the marriage of Princess Isabel to Prince Gaston, the Count of
Eu, also took place here in 1864.
Eat and drink
The all art-deco Confeitaria Colombo (confeitariacolombo.com.br), at 30 Rua Gonçalves
Dias, boasts magnificent interiors and is a must visit for tea, coffee, snack or a full meal. Stroll
around the Lapa neighbourhood at night and sample some good music, drinks and dinner from one of the many venues situated in old buildings. One of the best is the Rio Scenarium(rioscenarium.com.br), which offers a mixture of traditional music and cabaret styles, including
samba, chorinho and gafieira. The Amarelinho bar (amarelinhodacinelandia.com.br) serves ice-cold beer, a good accompaniment for watching the lively movement of Cariocas returning home and the arrival of the “Bohemian shift”.
Despite its many bars and restaurants, the centre of Rio only really offers more business-minded
hotels. The pick of the bunch is the Windsor Guanabara (windsorhoteis.com.br), close to the corner of Avenida Rio Branco, in Candelária.
See and do
At number 30 Rua Luís de Camões is the monumental ROYAL PORTUGUESE READING ROOM. Four hundred thousand books are perfectly exhibited on shelves in a noble 19th-century environment. Returning to Largo da Carioca, you can walk in a diagonal direction, arriving at Avenida Rio Branco, then Cinelândia, where historic buildings are surrounded by beautiful Portuguese stone pavements. On one side of the road is the MUNICIPAL THEATRE, with its rich belle-époque architecture, while across the street, the NATIONAL LIBRARY (219 Avenida Rio Branco) is one of the 10 largest libraries in the world. Across the street is the MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS
(mnba.gov.br), which has a large collection of 19th-century Brazilian art. The GAFIEIRA
ESTUDANTINA MUSICAL (estudantinamusical.com.br) is on Praça Tiradentes.
Zona Sul and Barra da Tijuca
These two neighbourhoods are pretty much everyone’s default setting when they think of Rio de Janeiro. Men in pinstripe suits and women in swimsuits walk the streets, home to countless bars, restaurants, shops, cafés and juice bars serving tropical fruit juices.
See and do
It’s worth taking your time when it comes to touring the streets and beaches of Copacabana.
Walking to the beach on the Portuguese paving stones, with their wave shapes, is one of life’s great pleasures. If you’d rather use two wheels to get around, you can always hire one of Rio’s colourful bicycles from one of the 60 available parking stations (mobilicidade.com.br/bikerio.asp). At the end of the beach, known as Posto 6, directly in front of the elegant Sofitel hotel, you can follow the movements of a colony of fishermen with their brightly painted boats and nets or, for the more sport-minded, rent a stand-up paddle board. Nearby is the historical Copacabana Fort. This place is worth a visit at any time of day, mainly because of its view over the entire length of
Copacabana beach, just like a picture postcard, with Sugarloaf Mountain in the background.
Next to Copacabana is Ipanema beach, populated by beautiful people and with an equally stunning view as far as the borders of Leblon. A rock known as Arpoador is located at the corner of the beach and is very popular with surfers. In the late afternoon, people of all ages gather to salute the sunset in this magnificent setting.
Rio’s best hotels can be found here, including the Copacabana Palace (copacabanapalace.com), which was built in 1923 and is most worthy of mention. Known affectionately as “Copa”, with its Mediterranean style, it houses two excellent restaurants: Cipriani, serving northern Italian cuisine, and Pérgula, beside its pool. In addition to the spa, gyms and living areas, each branch of the building is richly decorated, with beautiful chandeliers in its grand halls. There are also
fantastic views of Copacabana beach. Over in Ipanema, the Hotel Fasano (fasano.com.br) has panoramic views of Ipanema and Leblon beaches, with a backdrop of the Dois Irmãos and Pedra da Gávea mountains. The hotel is home to the Fasano Al Mare restaurant, the Bar da Piscina roof-top bar and Bar Londra, which plays live music. In Barra da Tijuca, there is the Windsor Barra (2630
Avenida Lucio Costa) and the Sherat on (at 3150), both in front of the beach and both with well-regarded restaurants.
In the area known as Quadrilátero do Charme do Ipanema, between the beach and Lagoa Rodrigo
de Freitas and between the streets Anibal de Mendonca and Joana Angélica, is the largest
concentration of boutiques, bars, restaurants, and interior design, fashion, and jewellery stores,
including H Stern (hstern.net), where you can visit the museum and see the production
processes, Amsterdam Sauer (amsterdamsauer.com), and Rio-based Sara Jóias (sarajoias.com)
and Antonio Bernardo (antoniobernardo.com.br), selling one-off pieces, all at Rua Garcia
D’Ávila. Take your time to enjoy the tree-lined streets here, with its designer stores and, of course,
the equally glamorous people who frequent them.
Eat and drink
For those who like bars, Rio is a paradise with its botequims (set in former warehouses). In
Copacabana, a cold drink comes with a huge variety of accompaniments, from codfish balls, to
feijoada dumplings and fried whitebait. Bars such as Devassa (devassa.com.br), Bracarense (Rua Jose Linhares, 85), Escondidinho (Rua Duque de Caxias, 5), Informal (botequiminformal.com.br) and Belmonte (botecobelmonte.com.br) are concentrated in the streets Bolívar and Barão, in Ipanema. The charming neighbourhood that was the birthplace of Bossa Nova music is also the
location of some great restaurants, including Brasileirinho (10 Rua dos Jangadeiros, next to Praça General Osório), Gero (157 Rua Aníbal de Mendonça), Felice (30 Rua Gomes Carneiro), Pomodorino (1104 Avenida Epitácio Pessoa) with a spectacular view of Lagoa, Satyricon (192 Rua Barão da Torre), Margutta (62 Rua Henrique Dumont) and Doce Delícia (55 Rua Aníbal de
Mendonça). Highlights for typical Brazilian food are Casa da Feijoada (10 Rua Prudente de
Moraes), the meat at Churrascaria Porcão (218 Rua Barão da Torre) and delicious pizza at
Capricciosa (134 Rua Vinicius de Moraes). The Jardim Botânico neighbourhood is home to
gourmet restaurants serving international cuisine. Among them is the Italian restaurant Braz (129 Rua Maria Angélica), and the Chinese Mr Lan (at number 21). On Lineu de Paula Machado, Roberta Sudbrack (robertasudbrack.com.br) has won many plaudits, both in Brazil and internationally.
Around the centro
See and do
Besides the beaches, Rio has some unmissable places that are a must to visit. Aterro do
Flamengo (Flamengo Park) is one such place. It starts alongside Santos Dumont Airport and
the neighbourhoods of Glória, Flamengo and Botafogo, and occupies an area of 1.2 million sq m.
The park’s rich landscape was designed by Roberto Burle Marx and its garden is home to the Marina da Glória, which has beautiful views of Sugarloaf Mountain as well as a number of sports fields. Sugarloaf Mounta in (bondinho.com.br for cable car tickets) is in the neighbourhood of Urca, shortly after the end of the park. At a height of 396 metres, there is a magnificent view of Guanabara Bay and, in the other direction, Zona Sul’s beaches and the Cristo Redentor (Christ The Redeemer) statue on summit of Corcovado Mountain. Corcovado and the Christ the Redeemer, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, are set in Tijuca National Park (corcovado.com.br for ticket and travel information). There are panoramic views of the city of Rio, an exuberant and contrasting spectacle of sea, rainforest and urban landscape, all at a height of 3,824 metres.
Like any modern metropolis, Rio has a number of galleries and shopping centres scattered around
the city. Many of the best ones can be found at Zona Sul Rio Sul (116 Rua Lauro Miller), home to 400 stores spread over seven floors, with free shuttles for guests at the main hotels between
Copacabana and Barra. Shopping Leblon (290 Rua Afrânio de Mello Franco) is another great spot for designer label shopping, while over in Gávea, at the far end of the Jardim Botânico neighbourhood, is Shopping da Gávea (shoppingdagavea.com.br), which is also home to five cinemas and four theatres. Nearby, the FASHION MALL (fashionmall.com.br) is home to the city’s FERRARI STORE. Two other shopping centres must also be mentioned: the huge complex of shops, cinemas and restaurants that is Barra ShoppinG (4,666 Avenida das Americas), always a big favourite with the locals. On the same avenue is Rio Design Barra (riodesignbarra.com.br), another great location for fashion and interior design. The nearest Ferrari dealer to Rio is VIA ITALIA
(Avenida Brasil , 1769 Jardim America, São Paulo).
From isuue n° 23 yearbook 2013