Brazil travel guide



Rio Travel Guide

City centre

Rio de Janeiro is the cultural capital of Brazil. Over its nearly 500 years of history, it has been the spring board for all the country's principal cultural exports, and the port of entry for major international art exhibitions or musical events bringing top names from the classical to the contemporary. Rio's architecture embraces churches and buildings dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries, blending with the world renowned designs of the 20th. Rio was home to the Portuguese Imperial family and capital of the country for many years, and was influenced by Portuguese, English and French architecture. Today, these wonderful old buildings contrast with the high rise ultra-modern intelligent structures, in a city that knows how to progress while at the same time preserving its past.

There are more than 50 museums, with collections that help to relate Brazil's 500 year history. They can be found in buildings listed as national historic heritage, or in award-winning buildings, illustrating the creativity of Brazilian architecture. The principal cultural centers, such as the Modern Art Museum, the National Museum of Fine Arts and the Bank of Brazil Cultural Center are geared today to show international exhibits under conditions of safety and conservation identical to the best museums in the world.

In the borough of Santa Teresa, the Montmartre or Soho of Rio, there is a row of houses dating from the start of the 20th century, with around 50 ateliers where more than 80 artists work, and who during the year open their doors to the public to show works of art that vary from the classic to the contemporary. In Lapa, a neighboring borough nearer to the center of town, antique shops live alongside dance halls, both preserving important cultural habits of the city.

In the field of music, Rio is the birthplace of the samba, which has its greatest celebration in February, during Carnival. The parade of the principal Samba Schools is a unique and unforgettable spectacle.

In the South Zone, along the sea front, the city preserves the memory of names such as Tom Jobim and João Gilberto, who wrote the first chords of the Bossa Nova. The greatest names in Brazilian popular music have always gravitated to Rio from all over the country, for various reasons such as the number of clubs offering live music, the fact that the international recording companies set up their head offices here, or because Rio is the home of the greatest TV network in the country.

Nature also has its cultural influence. One has just to visit the Botanical Gardens, with one of the most important collections of plants in the world - or the Tijuca Forest, the green heart of this marvelous city.

Explore Rio de Janeiro

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