Rio De Janeiro Stretches South into Guanabara Bay through a series of magnificent beach neighborhoods, which reach the Sugar Loaf at the mouth of the bay. The history of fashionable Rio can be traced through these areas. In colonial times the aristocracy frequented Centro. Then they moved to Glória, with its yacht-filled harbor and, in the mid-20th century, to Flamengo and Botafogo. When the water became polluted they abandoned these for the Atlantic and Copacabana. Today Ipanema and Leblon are the popular places to live. However, the bay neighborhoods retain stately buildings, attractive parks, and interesting little museums and galleries.
Sugar Loaf Mountain
This famous peak sits in Guanabara Bay, staring out toward Niter and the inky blue Atlantic. The view from the top is as breathtaking as from Cristo Redentor and looks best in the early morning. Although indigenous Brazilians have been scaling this rock for centuries, the first European reached the summit in 1817. Nowadays it is far easier to get there – by cable car, helicopter, or trail.
Monumento Nacional aos Mortos da II Guerra Mundial (War Memorial)
This beautifully balanced plinth supports two concrete columns topped by a convex slab, and is one of Rio’s most impressive Modernist monuments. Often attributed to Oscar Niemeyer, it was designed by architects Marcos Konder Neto and Hio Ribas Marinho in 1952 to commemorate the Brazilian soldiers who were killed in fighting in Italy during World War II.
• Av Infante Dom Henrique s/n, Glória
• (021) 2262 3935
• Open 10am–6pm Tue–Fri and 2–6pm Sat–Sun
Igreja Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro
One of the prettiest 18th-century churches in Rio lies just to the south of the War Memorial. It is perched on a little hill surrounded by woods, and overlooks the bay.
The polygonal interior, lined with very fine painted blue and white azulejo tiles, is impressive. The church was the favorite of the Brazilian royal family. Emperor Dom Pedro II (see p31) was baptized here.
• Praça Nossa Senhora da Glória 135, Glória
• (021) 2557 4600
• Open 9am–noon and 1–5pm Tue–Fri, 9am–noon Sat & Sun
Museu Carmen Miranda
A handful of relics from the first international Brazilian singing star are housed in this ungainly building shaped like a concrete pill box. On display are photos, costumes, newspaper cuttings, and magazine covers. Although Carmen lived in the city as a child and a teenager, she was born in Lisbon and her version of “being Brazilian” is generally regarded as a caricature.
• Parque Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes (in front of Av Rui Barbosa 560), Flamengo
• (021) 2299 5586 • Open 10am–5pm Tue–Fri, noon–5pm Sat–Sun
Museu de Folclore Edison Carneiro
Displaying arts and crafts from all over Brazil, this museum features carved models and tableaus of rodeos, circuses, and festival scenes, which, when switched on, work like music boxes. Over 14,000 exhibits, including bibliographic documents, audiovisual displays, and hundreds of ceramic objects and photographs, paint a vivid picture of Brazil’s cultural life.
• Rua do Catete 181, Catete
• (021) 2285 0441
• Open 11am–6pm Tue–Fri, 3–6pm Sat, Sun & holidays
Museu do Índio
When the Europeans arrived, Brazil was inhabited by over 5 million indigenous people divided into at least 1,000 groups. Much of their culture was wiped out with the onset of slavery. This museum displays many indigenous objects and has rooms devoted to information panels and slide shows. There is also a Guaraní maloca (communal thatch house), a bookshop, and a library.
• Rua das Palmeiras 55, Botafogo
• (021) 2286 8899
• Open 9am–5:30pm Tue–Fri, 1–5pm Sat–Sun
Heitor Villa-Lobos is Latin America’s most highly respected classical composer. Between 1917 and his death in 1959, he produced over 1,000 highly original works influenced by both foreign composers and Brazilian musical styles, particularly choro.
His best-known piece is the Bachianas Brasileiras, which pays homage to both Bach and Brazilian folk music. The museum in the musician’s former home is devoted to displays of his personal effects. These include many of his musical instruments, manuscripts, and recordings.
The museum also hosts regular performances of his music.
• Rua Sorocaba 200, Botafogo
• (021) 2266 3845
• Open 10am–5:30pm Mon–Fri
Praia Vermelha and Praia de Fora
These fabulous beaches are huddled around the base of the Sugar Loaf and Morro da Urca, a mere stroll away from the cablecar station, and are the closest to the city to be pounded by Atlantic waves. They are regarded as the safest in Rio and are popular with young, upper middle-class Cariocas, many of whom have weekend parties on the sand.
Pista Cláudio Coutinho
This walking track snakes its way around the base of the Sugar Loaf and Morro da Urca, and then up to the top of Morro da Urca. The views are wonderful throughout. The trail cuts through woodland filled with tiny, tufted-eared marmosets and brilliantly colored tanagers, and dips onto the Praia de Fora beach. Walks are coolest in the early morning and the trail is one of the safest in urban Rio because of the huge army presence in Urca.
• Open 6am–6pm daily
Casa de Rui Barbosa
Rui Barbosa was one of the most influential politicians in the early years of the republic. His former home, one of many stately 19th-century town houses to have been preserved in Botafogo, is now a museum.
On weekends, there are often concerts of classical music in the main hall and the gardens are an oasis of peace and quiet at any time.
• Rua Sao Clemente 134, Botafogo
• (021) 3289 4600
• Open 10am–5pm Tue–Fri, 2–6pm Sat–Sun and holidays