This is how Rio de Janeiro is considered, a city which is symbol for Brazil around the world. Most people want to visit Rio de Janeiro at least once in their lifetime, whilst is inhabitants are reluctant to stop considering Brasilia the capital of the country.
Beauty, nobility, lights, neighbourhoods, beaches, mountains and extremely welcoming Cariocas (its native people) make a perfect mix, so that no visitor will feel a lack of warmth and affection. Nothing more is needed to enjoy what you see, touch and eat, because everything in this city is ready to enchant.
Mountains and ocean blend together in an incredible way in Guanabara Bay, where the Portuguese arrived on the 1st of January 1502, captained by Gaspar de Lemos. This moment was its baptism as Rio de Janeiro, which the Cariocas contribute to these first visitors’ confusion of the sea with a river.
It was the capital of Brazil from 1763, until president Juscelino Kubitschesk decided to move to the middle of nowhere and inaugurate the city of Brasilia, which, on paper, became the Brazilian capital in 1960.
However Rio de Janeiro continues today, 52 years later, to be the most loved and yearned for metropolis of the inhabitants of the South American giant.
The Sugar Loaf, the Corcovado with its impressive Christ the Redeemer at the summit, the Botanical Garden, the imperial city of Petropolis, the Arcos of Lapa in the bohemian quarter, the most visited by tourists after the famed beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Barra de Tijuca are landmarks of the Marvellous City.
Nor is it lacking in works of human ingenuity, such as the large and majestic banking buildings and those of the state company Petrobras; or the Cathedral of Sao Sebastio of Rio de Janeiro with its conical shape, 106 metres in diameter and 96 metres high, which can hold about 20,000 people standing; or the Rio-Niteroi bridge.
Neither do the tourists miss out on the Maracaná stadium, or its younger brother, the Maracanzainho, and Joao Havelange or Engenhao.
There is also the Sambódromo Marqués de Sapucaí, the main site of the world famous Rio Carnival, which every year sees Rio’s samba schools parading in competition in displays of music, colour and dance.
And to remind you that Rio de Janerio is a colonial city, along with the modern metro the city also boasts the Santa Teresa Bondinho, a tramway connecting the city centre with the hill that shares its name, which until a few decades ago was a meeting place for intellectuals, artists and Brazilian musicians.
These men of arts and literature filled the bars and canteens of Santa Teresa and immersed themselves in literary gatherings that often ended with the lyrics of a song, a painting or a book.
And not lacking anything, in Rio de Janeiro, as in any major Latin American city, there are poor neighbourhoods, which have existed for 100 years in the Marvellous City. Known as favelas, they are the birthplace of the most famous samba dancers and musicians of other genres, as well as the most notable footballers, almost always coming from the poorest parts of society.
Although the favelas are still feared and rarely visited by tourists because of the violence that persists there, in more recent years an official peace program has allowed some of the most emblematic favelas to be included as stops on the route for millions of holiday makers, both Brazilians and foreigners.
And if tourists are not satisfied with the beaches, hotels, the Sugar Loaf, Christ the Redeemer, the Carnival and the other sites and attractions described here, Rio de Janeiro has museums and libraries worth visiting, as well as several theatres renowned for their history and tradition, such as the Municipal, which has decorated the city centre for more than a century.
Little wonder then that Brazilians and foreigners alike are enchanted by the so called Marvellous City, which one day ceased to be Brazil’s capital, but only on paper, since in the hearts of the Brazilians it continues to be its most important and most loved city. (PL)
(Translated by Sarah Watson – Email: email@example.com)