If you are alone in Rio, the advantage is that you can choose from any of predefined tours, but just as well you can list together with our guides places interesting to you. Our special tour has no fixed itinerary, but often people ask to go to the places listed below. But just as well they can follow the routes of historic, city or beach tours, according to each one’s individual preferences.
1. Espaço Cultural da Marinha
Closed due to Perimetral demolition. We will include new information as it becomes available.
2. Parque do Palacio do Catete
The Presidential Palace is located in the neighborhood of Catete1, in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was the seat of power Ghosn 1897-1960. From this year, the seat of executive power was transferred to the newly opened city of Brasilia. From the 1970s, the palace has housed the Museum of the Republic, a post he continues to practice today.
The building was built as the residence of the family of Luso-Brazilian grower Anthony Clement Pinto, Baron of Nova Friburgo, in the then capital of the Empire of Brazil. It was called the Chateau Largo Valdetaro and Palace Nova Friburgo.
Design with German architect Carl Friedrich Gustav Waehneldt, dated 1858, the work began with the demolition of the old house at 150 Rua do Catete. The building officially ended in 1866, but the finishing works also continued for more than a decade.
After the death of the Baron and Baroness, the son of these, Antonio Clemente Pinto Filho, the Earl of St. Clement, sold the property in 1889, shortly before the Proclamation of the Republic of Brazil, for a group of investors, who founded the Great Company Hotel Internacional. This development, however, did not succeed in turning the palace into a luxury hotel. Due to the economic crisis at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth (Encilhamento), the venture went bankrupt, and their titles acquired by the counselor Mayrink Francisco de Paula, that five years later, paid off debts with the so called Bank of Republic of Brazil.
At the time, the seat of the executive branch of Brazil was the Foreign Ministry’s Palace in Rio de Janeiro. In 1897, President Prudente de Morais became ill and, meanwhile, the government assumed the vice-president, Manuel Vitorino, who did get the palace and there did install the seat of government. Officially, the palace was the seat of the Federal Government February 24, 1897 until 1960 when the capital and the Federal District were transferred to Brasília.
Several historical events happened in the halls of the palace, such as the death of President Afonso Pena in 1909, the signing of the declaration of war against Germany in 1917, during the First World War, and hosting the visit of Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, in 1934, the declaration of war against the Axis in World War II, in 1942, the suicide of President Getúlio Vargas in 1954, shot in the heart, in his room on the third floor of the palace, among others.
3. Vista Chinesa
Since 1856, the Botanical Garden was connected to the Alto da Boa Vista on a road carriageway, opened by the influence of Lord of Bom Retiro and the implementation and maintenance was contracted to Thomas Cochrane. Workers from Macau, China, we employed to farm rice, but not having shown any ability for agriculture, were utilized in the construction of the road. This region proofs of Chinese presence, which began with the arrival of planters of tea at the time of Dom João VI.
After the failure of this crop, according to Brazil Gerson, the Chinese would have spread inthe tijuca valleys. In 1844, a map of the area recorded a building called “House of Chinas.” Probably a remnant of this early experience. This explains why the mayor Pereira Passos in 1903, with project architect Luis King), built in mortar copying the bamboo on the banks of this road, the pavilion Chinese View. Further up, on the same road a location prepared to serve as a resting point on frequent tours of the imperial family was named Emperor’s Table.
4. Espaço Cultural do Monumento Estácio de Sá
Estácio de Sá (1520–1567) was a Portuguese soldier and officer who went to the colony of Brazil, on orders of the Portuguese crown, to wage war on the French colonists commanded by Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon. These French colonists had established themselves in 1555 at Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, in a settlement known as France Antarctique. He was the founder of Rio de Janeiro, now the second largest city in Brazil.
Born in Santarém, Portugal in 1520, Estácio de Sá was the nephew of the Governor General of the colony of Brazil, Mem de Sá.
He arrived with two galleons at Salvador, Bahia, in 1564. In 1565, after extensive preparations and the help of Jesuits, such as Manuel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta, he departed by sea from São Vicente, São Paulo, the first Portuguese settlement in Brazil, with an attack force. On March 1, he founded the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro near the Sugarloaf Mountain and established the basis of his military operations against the French and their Aboriginal allies. After receiving reinforcements sent by sea by his uncle from Salvador, Sá commanded a definitive and successful attack on the fortification of Uruçú-mirim on 20 January, 1567. He died, however, on 20 February, of wounds inflicted by an arrow which had perforated his eye.
Sá was interred in the church of Saint Sebastian in the encampment he had founded. As the city of Rio de Janeiro grew, his remains were relocated to a new church of Saint Sebastian in the Castelo. His remains were rediscovered in 1839 by several scholars working for Emperor Pedro II, and, in 1862, when the church was being rebuilt, some of his bones were exhumed in the presence of the emperor and placed in a “worthy urn“.
Urca is a traditional and wealthy residential neighborhood with nearly 7,000 inhabitants (2000 census) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although most of the neighborhood dates from the 1920s, parts of it are much older. What is now called the Forte São João, a military base at the foot of the Sugarloaf Mountain, is where the first Portuguese settlement in Rio was founded by Estácio de Sá on March 1st 1565. The French had arrived a 12 years earlier and founded a settlement, called France Antarctique, close to what is now Flamengo and Gloria districts, in downtown Rio. The French, riven by internal disputes between Catholics and Protestants, were massacred by the Portuguese and their Indian allies in attacks organised from here, expelling them from the nearby Villegagnon Island (named after the French commander Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon). The street now called Rua São Sebastião, in Urca, which leads from behind the fort to the Urca cassino, was originally a trail from the Portuguese fort skirting the edge of the sea to the mainland along the peninsula that houses the Sugar Loaf and a smaller hill, the Morro da Urca. Rua São Sebastião thus has some claim to be the oldest street in Rio.
Building space in Rio is restricted by the city’s geography, which offers formidable physical barriers to urban expansion. The notion of filling in part of the shallow bay around the Morro Vermelho and building a neighborhood on it was mooted periodically in the nineteenth century, and in the 1880s a development company was formed for the purpose, Urbanização Carioca, whose acronym Urca gave the neighbourhood its name. But, some historians contest this version, identifying the name Urca already stamped in 18th century maps. “Urca”, in old Portuguese tradition, designates a small and large cargo ship. Legal wrangles over financing and land titles delayed work for a generation, but the landfill began shortly after the conclusion of World War I and the first houses were built in 1922. The centrepiece of the new neighbourhood was a cassino, originally conceived as a competitor to the newly installed cassino in the luxury Copacabana Palace hotel, in those days a rather longer and more inconvenient haul from downtown Rio.
The neighbourhood’s origin as a 1920s urban development is very evident. Photos of the area on the 1930s show lots divided up, a low sea wall, individual houses and the trees so characteristic of the area now mere saplings. It is perhaps second only to Santa Tereza as a carioca urban neighbourhood in its pleasantness, architectural unity and lack of the crass development which has scarred so much of the city. Part of this is explained by the neighborhood’s insularity. The developers of Urca made their money by dividing up the neighbourhood into lots and selling them to small investors, many of them recent European immigrants, especially Portuguese, of relatively modest means – the richer middle class headed for the more glamorous neighbourhoods of Copacabana and Leme, the other side of Praia Vermelha. The heavy military presence around Urca in the coup-prone 1920s was also a disincentive for those with money to afford a beach house elsewhere. Many of the present inhabitants of Urca are the descendants of families who bought houses or plots when the area was originally developed.
It is easy to see the successive phases of Urca’s development strolling around the neighbourhood. Most of the residential houses date from the late 1920s to the late 1940s and are a portfolio of house styles popular at the time: art deco houses and apartment buildings, the faux Spanish colonial style, so popular throughout the Americas in the 1930s and 1940s, but locally called Manuelino style (after the 16th century Portuguese king Manuel I) and mock Tudor houses cheerfully aping the English interwar suburbs, often painted with a very un-English flair and color. The seafront Avenida Luis Alves has a number of modest apartment buildings, most from the 1950s and 1960s, but to a far lesser extent than any other neighbourhood in the Zona Sul. The commercial Rua Marechal Cantuária which leads traffic into the heart of Urca is the only street to have suffered significant redevelopment, but even then at a low level and very little since the 1960s. It is much used by film-makers and ‘novela’ producers looking for period settings.
The casino flourished and was a fixture of Rio’s social scene in the prewar and immediate postwar period. Urca’s most famous resident, Carmen Miranda, was discovered by a Hollywood producer visiting the casino in 1938, where she was a singer. She rented a small house on Rua São Sebastião, on the left walking up from the casino, where a plaque on the wall, the only one in Rio commemorating a famous person’s house, remembers the “pequena notável”, the “little wonder”. The casino also played a minor role in the history of astrophysics. Two scientists in the casino, discussing a model explaining neutrino emission patterns in the cooling of stars, called it after the casino when they noticed how rapidly money, like energy pulsing from a dying star, disappeared from the roulette table. But astrophysics notwithstanding, the money ran out in the end. In 1946 a federal ban on casinos put the Cassino da Urca out of business. The building was later acquired by TV Tupí, a pioneering Brazilian television station owned by Assis Chateaubriand, the first Brazilian media mogul.
TV Tupi built a new frontage for the building onto the beach, increasing its internal space but turning the beautifully curved 1930s exterior into a plain right-angled building. The TV Tupi studio became best known as the location of the Chacrinha program, a variety program which ran on weekend afternoons from the 1960s to the 1980s, with an enormous national audience. A slot on Chacrinha for any musician, dancer, actor or starlet was a sign they had finally arrived. The ageing inhabitants of Urca were, however, never entirely at ease with the crowds of screaming teenagers who regularly invaded their tranquil streets chasing their idols. Many greeted the closure of the studios in the late 1980s with relief, but the abandonment of the cassino and its being left to rot until 2008 was unfortunately typical of the misgovernment and neglect which has blighted modern Rio. It is currently being renovated to serve as a design institute.
Urca’s long association with entertainment is reflected in the number of Brazilian musicians and artists who live there. The most famous is Roberto Carlos, the Brazilian Julio Iglesias, who lives in a relatively modest penthouse apartment on the seafront and, devout Catholic as he is, can sometimes be caught singing in Urca’s only church.
Although Forte São João is a military base, visitors are allowed in on weekday afternoons if they say they want to visit the fort’s museum, the ‘Museu do Forte”. As said before, it was in this fort the Portuguese officially refunded the city after partially expelling the French, in 1567. The walls we can see today are a typical early seventeenth century Portuguese fort, like many others around the country, with several original cannons. But the main attraction is the extraordinary location. The Sugar Loaf plunges down to the beach behind the fort, the Praia de Fora, one of Rio’s most secluded and beautiful, although the sea is often dirty. A number of fine Art Deco buildings are next to the fort, notably a gymnasium built in 1932. The inevitable football field next to the gymnasium, with the Sugar Loaf behind one goal, the fort behind the other and the beach looking out across the entrance to Guanabara bay parallel to one sideline, is arguably the most spectacularly located football pitch in the world.
6. Museu do Acude
The Museum of Weir, a member of the Museums Castro Maya, is an old property turned into a museum, located in Alto da Boa Vista, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Reformed by Raymundo Ottoni de Castro Maya (1894-1968) in the 1920s, won a collection of tiles which includes parts of Portugal, France, Germany and Spain, in addition to exhibiting a wide gallery of works by renowned artists such as Iole of Freitas, who has one of his works near the beautiful pool of the residence.
The large gardens are also the result of visitations, which meets local part of the works exhibited. 150 000 m² are in the forest of Tijuca.
The sculptures are on site were also brought by Castro Maya, highlighting rare Chinese pieces, members of a vast collection of Oriental art.
The property of the Alto da Boa Vista, acquired by his father in 1913, was renovated by Maya Castro from the 20s, giving it a face of neocolonial residence. Located in an area of 151.132m ² in the Tijuca Forest, the Museum of the weir has a proposal relating to the natural cultural heritage.
According to the philosophy of Museums Castro Maya, programming Dam Museum seeks to articulate culture and nature, working with the idea of integral equity, also considering both its cultural heritage and the natural.
The ensemble of buildings and formal gardens of Portuguese inspiration that comprise the Museum of Weir is a collection of tiles – panels French, Dutch, Spanish, and especially the Portuguese of the seventeenth century – and dishwasher Port, type of ornamental earthenware manufactured from the nineteenth century in Portugal.
A collection of Oriental art assembled by Castro Maya, previously exhibited in both museums and now set in the Museum of Weir, has rare examples of Chinese sculpture, Indian and Indochinese, and porcelain from outside sources. Applied arts are also represented by a significant number of Luso-Brazilian furniture, silverware from Brazilian Portuguese, English and French and French crystals.
In 1999 was created the Space Museum’s Permanent Installations Weir, cultural project with unique characteristics in Brazil, whose profile follows an international trend to transform public spaces in large open-air museums – one outdoor exhibition circuit, whose idea is to relate the force of contemporary Brazilian art production to the natural landscape surrounding the museum Weir. Integrate this circuit works by Iole de Freitas, Anna Maria Maiolino, Helio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, Nuno Ramos, José Rezende, Piotr Uklanski and Eduardo Coimbra.
Daily except Tuesdays, from 11h to 17h. Free admission on Thursdays. Closes on the 1st Jan, Carnival, 25 Dec and 31 Dec.
7. Floresta da Tijuca
The Tijuca Forest (Floresta da Tijuca in Portuguese) is a mountainous hand-planted rainforest in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is the world’s largest urban forest, covering some 32 km² (12.4 mi²). The forest shares its name with bairros or neighborhoods of Tijuca and Barra da Tijuca that contain its entrances. It is a mountainous region, which encompasses the Tijuca Massif.
The Tijuca Forest is home to hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, many threatened by extinction, found only in the Atlantic Rainforest (Mata Atlântica in Portuguese). After all the original forest had been destroyed to make way for coffee farms, Tijuca was replanted by Major Manuel Gomes Archer in the second half of the 19th century in a successful effort to protect Rio’s water supply.