br-rj-rj 150
Capital of Rio de Janeiro

All Brazilian capitals:
Aracaju (SE), Belém (PA), Belo Horizonte (MG), Boa Vista (RR), Brasília (DF), Campo Grande (MS), Cuiabá (MT), Curitiba (PR), Florianópolis (SC), Fortaleza (CE), Goiânia (GO), João Pessoa (PB), Macapá (AP), Maceió (AL), Manaus (AM), Natal (RN), Palmas (TO), Porto Alegre (RS), Porto Velho (RO), Recife (PE), Rio Branco (AC), Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Salvador (BA), São Luís (MA), São Paulo (SP), Teresina (PI), Vitória (ES)

Brazil´s former capital Rio de Janeiro attracts many tourists from Brazil and all over the world to visit its past and its present: the glorious monuments remembering the Colonial and Imperial Period, the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the carnaval, and the samba.

RJ_rio_de_janeiro 450 

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro that was formed after the merger of the states of Guanabara and Rio de Janeiro in 1975. The city is with its 6.1 million inhabitants (IBGE, 2009), the second-largest of Brazil, after São Paulo. The metropolitan area counts about 12.4 million people. The city is situated between sea level and an altitude of 380 meter, and counts 1182 square kilometers. The human development index of Rio de Janeiro is 0.842 (PNAD/IBGE, 2000). Rio is often called ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’, the Marvelous City.

Sunset at Ipanema Beach


On the first day of 1502, the Portuguese expedition commanded by Gaspar de Lemos arrived in the Guanabara Bay. Since he mistakenly was thinking that the bay was the mouth of a river, he baptized the location Rio de Janeiro. By that time the area was inhabited by the Tupi, Maxakalí, Botocudo, and Puri indian tribes. In 1555, A French expedition commanded by Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon, landed on a small island in the Guanabara Bay and founded the French colony Antarctique Française, French Antartica, Forte Coligny, and the city Henriville.

A Portuguese military expedition commanded by Estácio de Sá ousted the French, and founded the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro on March 1, 1565. This date is considered as the founding date of the city. Until early 18th century the city had to endure various attacks from mainly French and Dutch pirates and buccaneers. Bandeirantes (pioneers) exploring more land inward, discovered precious metals and stones, that made Rio a more practical port to export the wealthy goods. For that reason, the capital from colonial Brazil changed from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro in 1763.

In 1807, when the French emperor Napoleon invaded Spain and threatened to invade Portugal, the entire Portuguese Royal Family moved to Brazil, escorted by the British navy. Crown prince Dom João VI, who was governing the Portuguese kingdom as a regent for his insane mother, elevated Brazil as a kingdom in 1815, and Rio became capital of it. In 1821, Dom João and most of his family returned to Portugal. His oldest son, Dom Pedro stayed and later refused to leave Brazil. He declared Brazil independent, Rio became the capital of the Brazilian empire. When Brazil became a republic in 1889, Rio continued as capital. In 1960, Rio lost its status of Brazil’s capital to the newly-built city: Brasília. Rio will become capital of World Soccer in 2014 and of the Olympic Movement in 2016.

Economic activity

Economically, Rio de Janeiro is the second largest of Brazil, after São Paulo, providing a little more than five percent of the nation’s GDP. Services account for 66 percent, tax collection for 23 %, and industrial activity for 11 %. In the recent years, the economy leading heavily on industries as shipbuilding, metallurgy, oil refinery, has transformed to an economy that focuses more on businesses and services. The city hosts headquarters of many large Brazilian and international multinationals, such as Petrobrás, Vale, Embratel, Coca Cola, IBM, and Shell. Rio is the 2nd richest city in Brazil, and the 30th richest in the world.

One of the seven wonders of the modern
world: Christ the Redeemer

What to see

Many tourists visit Rio for its famous and abundant Carnival festivities. Samba schools compete with each other during the parades at the Sambódromo Marquês de Sapucaí. Outside the Sambódromo, one can enjoy the Carnival on the streets, where many so-called blocos (carnival percussion groups) have their parades, followed by a huge crowd of dancing and partying people. When searching for some rest, one may visit the world famous beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Barra de Tijuca, that are lining the Atlantic Ocean. Inward the Guanabara Bay, one may go to the beaches of Botafogo and Flamengo. Speaking of Flamengo, the soccer team plays its games in the giant Maracanã soccer stadium. The team of Botafogo plays in the Engenhão, also known as Estádio João Havelange, where the 2016 Olympic Games will start.

To have an encounter with the rich past of Rio, the historic center is worth visiting. The narrow alleys, the cozy restaurants and bars, as in Arco do Teles. Praça XV de Novembro exhibits an important party of the history with the Paço Imperial, the statues of Dom João VI and General Osório, war hero of the Paraguayan War. Close to this square is Palácio Tiradentes: a palace in the typical eclectic style where Brazilian freedom fighter Tiradentes was imprisoned for three years before condemned to death by hanging.

Rio also has various churches, like the Igreja da Candelária, Igreja da NS do Carmo, Igreja da Ordem Terceira do Carmo, and the modern Catedral São Sebastião, also called the Metropolitan Cathedral. This huge conic structure is close to the Lapa District, where one may find an interesting mix of bars and nightclubs, representing samba, hip hop, reggae, and electronic music styles. In the center of Lapa is a ceramic stairway, consisting of tiles from all corners of the world. towards the Santa Tereza District, the Escada de Selarón, named after the Chilean artist. Instead of climbing the stairs, one may take the antique tram to Santa Tereza, that runs over the arcs of the aqueduct of Lapa. Speaking of climbing, there are two interesting options. One is the cable car to Pão de Açúcar, the Sugarloaf Rock. From there one may enjoy breathtaking views of the entire Guanabara bay and a major part of the city. The second option is the climb of the world famous Corcovado, with the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) on top of it. The climb can be made by train, van or even walking. From the 710 meter high mountain one has an unforgettable view of entire Rio de Janeiro.

Rio is also known for its cultural richness and diversity. The city hosts many museums and cultural centers. Museums that exhibit the history of Rio, contemporary artworks, the indigenous tribes, the naval history (with a boat tour along the entire Guanabara Bay), the history of carnival. Museums of interest are Museu de Belas Artes, Museu de Arte Moderna, the museums within the fortresses of Copacabana, Leme, and São João (Urca). The National Monument (near Flamengo Beach) hosts the war graves of the Brazilian Expedition Force.
Cultural centers of interest are the monumental Theatro Municipal, the cultural centers of Caixa, Banco do Brasil, and Correios.

The beauty of nature can be encountered in the well-known Botanical Garden, founded shortly after the arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family, with its static imperial palm trees, the Japanese garden, and a variety of Brazilian vegetation types. Rio boasts to have the world’s largest urban park within its city limits: the Tijuca park, in which the Corcovado Mountain is situated.

Outside Rio de Janeiro, the imperial city of Petrópolis, the historical city of Paraty, and the beach resorts of Angra dos Reis, Ilha Grande, Búzios, and Cabo Frio are most visited.

Click here for the Official Rio Guide, for more – actual – tourist information, where a PDF guide may be downloaded.


Rio in just one minute
There exists only one Rio
Discover Rio
Rio de Janeiro
Rio – FIFA World Cup 2014
Rio 2016

Rio – Cristo Redentor
Rio – Pão de Açúcar – TV Brasil

Câmera Especial 20 –
Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro 1
Câmera Especial 20 –
Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro 2

Carnival 2012: Parade of the winning samba school Unidos da Tijuca
Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro

Beaches of Búzios (RJ)
Beaches of Cabo Frio (RJ)

Niterói (RJ)
Paraty (RJ)

Travel along the beaches of Angra dos Reis & Ilha Grande (RJ)
Petrópolis (RJ), Memories of the Imperial Era

By Adriano Antoine Robbesom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.