Brazil · Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro’s setting between the mountains and the sea is so spectacular that UNESCO cited “the staggeringly beautiful location for one of the world’s biggest cities” in naming Rio a World Heritage Site. UNESCO’s accolades weren’t just for the natural setting but also for the urban cultural landscape and the mix of architecture and planned green space that characterized the city’s growth.
Rio de Janeiro is the second major city in Brazil and was its capital from 1763 to 1960, when Brasília was created. This place consists of an exceptional urban setting encompassing the key natural elements that have shaped and inspired the development of the city: from the highest points of the Tijuca National Park’s mountains down to the sea.
Rio de Janeiro is also known as the Cidade Maravilhosa, or the Marvelous City, Rio de Janeiro has more than 20 beaches and many dramatic landmarks, including the much-photographed Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks the city from the 709-meter summit of Corcovado. The thriving metropolitan area, with its exceptional architecture, museums, galleries, and restaurants, sits on the magnificent Guanabara Bay against a rugged backdrop of forested mountains, making for one of the most stunning settings in the world.
Rio de Janeiro’s annual Carnival is one of the world’s most famous pre-Lenten celebrations – as well-known as those in Venice and New Orleans – takes place each winter in Rio de Janeiro. The celebrations begin shortly after New Year, but the splendor and extravagance reaches its spectacular climax in the four days before Ash Wednesday, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators to its street parades, samba parties, and shows.
The most spectacular events are the parades of the samba schools, which are held in a unique venue designed by renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The Sambódromo is a long parade route lined by stadium-style boxes designed so that up to 50000 spectators can watch the parades of brilliantly costumed dancers as they compete. The parade route is 700 meters long and 13 meters wide. It was first used in 1984 and updated as a venue for the 2016 Olympic Games.