* Irene's Country Corner * - Brasil - Rio de Janeiro



The South Zone

© Irene. Not available for download.

Copacabana, Flamengo, Botafogo, Ipanema, Leblon, São Conrado, Gávea, Jardim Botânico, Lagoa and Barra da Tijuca are the main districts in the South Zone. Each neighborhood was named for a bay or a beach, such as Flamengo, Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon; or a valley, such as Laranjeiras or Gávea.

© Irene. Not available for download.

Rio's most famous landmarks and beaches are undoubtedly the Copacabana beach, the Sugar Loaf and the Statue of Christ, located on top of the Corcovado hill.

Although Copacabana is the most known, it is not the favorite beach among most of the "cariocas", as people who are born in Rio are called. The word "carioca", derives from one of the Brazilian indigenous people language that literally translating means: house of the white man ("oca" is their word for house and "kario' " their word for white man. Kario' plus oca resulted in "carioca". Rio de Janeiro has 90km of white sand beaches.

Copacabana, located in Copacabana and undoubtedly Brazil’s most famous beach, stretching for around 3,4km. Copacabana is the home of beach soccer and volleyball, which can be also played during the night because of light reflectors that were installed on the beach.

On the last day of the year, Copacabana beach presents the most famous and beautiful fireworks show in the whole country. Many tourists from other cities of Brazil and also a large number of foreign visitors go to Copacabana to watch this spectacular show.

Praia Vermelha (Red Beach), located at Urca and 245 meters long situated below hill (picture on the right); Leme, located in Leme and a continuation of the Copacabana beach, around 1km long; Arpoador, located at the beginning of Ipanema and is 800 meters long.

© Irene. Not available for download.  Picture taken by me on top of the Sugar Loaf on June 28 2003.

Ipanema, located at Ipanema. The beach became famous for the song "Girl from Ipanema" (Garota de Ipanema), by the Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, known as Tom Jobim. The beach spreads over 2km and is separated from Leblon by the canal at Jardim de Alah (Alah’s Garden) which links the Rorigo de Freitas Lagoon (Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas) to the sea.

Leblon, located at Leblon. Spreading around 1,3km of sand, the Leblon beach begins where the canal at Jardim de Alah passes through going towards the sea. The canal separates the Leblon beach from Ipanema beach.

São Conrado, located at Gávea, better known as Praia do Pepino (Cucumber Beach if translated). Pepino is the landing area for the city’s hang gliders.

© Irene. Not available for download.

Barra da Tijuca, located at Barra da Tijuca. Rio’s longest beach, stretching over 18km along Av. Sernambetiba and the favorite among the greates part of the "cariocas" (citizens from Rio). One of the favorite spot on the beach is the area around the Barraca do Pepê (Pepê's kioski), a famous brazilian hang glider who died competing outside Brazil. His kioski is famous for its delicious natural sandwiches. I can't go to the beach and come back home without stoping at Pepê for a sandwich. :o)

The Parque do Flamengo (Flamengo Park) occupies an area of 1.200.000 m². The Monument to Estácio de Sá (founder of the city), the Monument to World War II, the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) and the Carmen Miranda Museum can be found along the park area. It has soccer fields, public basketball courts, paths for jogging, walking and biking. On weekends the freeway that runs alongside the park is closed to traffic. The park was built through landfill and designed by Brazil's master landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.

Close to Flamengo, the Catete Palace (Palácio do Catete), former official residence of the Brazilian presidents, is today a museum (Museu da República). It was constructed between 1858 and 1867 by Antônio Clemente Pinto, Baron of Nova Friburgo. In 1896, during the government of President Prudente de Morais, it became the presidential residence.

Brazil's presidents lived in the palace until 1954 (when President Getúlio Vargas committed suicide in his bedroom). With the transfer of the capital of Brazil to Brasília, the Palace was transformed in a museum, which is one of the most interesting in Rio, with a cultural project that encompasses exhibitions, music, theater, cinema, video, a book shop and access to over 20.000 books, 7.000 assorted items and 80.000 documents. The museum has a large collection of French and Brazilian furniture, paintings by Henrique Bernadelli, Gustavo Dall'Arce, Rodolfo Amoêdo, sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries, presidential memorabilia etc.

Located at Botafogo, the "Museu do Índio" is a museum dedicated to native Brazilians, their art and culture. Pottery, wood, straw and feather are some of the materials used in creative ways by tribes from all parts of Brazil. The museum takes an active role in promoting a better understanding of the native Brazilian culture.

A group of natives were brought to the museum in order to build a Uné, a large Indian home, 5 meters tall and 15 meters long. Inside were installed hammocks, cooking pans, flutes and straw skirts so that visitors can learn how natives decorate their homes. There is genuine hand craft for sale in the museum store.

The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon occupies an area of 2.4 million square meters of water surface. The 7.5 km long path around the lagoon is used by people for biking, walking or roller skating. It is the most frequented open-air area in Rio, receiving around 60.000 people every weekend.

Two important clubs in Rio are located in the lagoon: the "Clube Naval" and the "Clube Caiçaras". The lagoon is surrounded by the districts Ipanema, Leblon, Jardim Botânico and Gávea. It is also connected to the North Zone by the Rebouças tunnel, constructed at the base of the Corcovado hill.

Below you can see parts of the lagoon. The residential area constructed around it is made of beautiful tall buildings and the apartments in this area are very expensive. On the right you can see a small part of the Botanical Garden, a beautiful 340-acre garden built in 1808.


© Irene. Not available for download.

© Irene. Not available for download.


The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon is also known as the "heart of Rio" for it is shaped like a heart as you can see on this picture. In the lower part of the picture, you can see the Clube Naval on the left and the Caiçaras Club on the right, inside the lagoon. In the upper part, you can see the Copacabana beach on the right and the Sugar Loaf a little to the left. I scanned this picture from a newspaper, it's not so good, but I hope you can see it.

© Irene. Not available for download.

The Botanical Garden (Jardim Botânico), founded by Dom João VI in 1808, is one of Rio's most famous natural attractions. The 340-acre garden has over 5.500 species of trees and bushes, including 900 varieties of palm trees and over 140 species of birds.

It is famous for its beautiful and soaring Imperial Palms planted in 1842, the tallest ones in the world.

It is the home of a large variety of plants, including aquatic and carnivore and different types of orchids that can be seen in the interior of a green house located in the park. It is located in the district that receives the same name.

Standing at the top of the Corcovado mountain, stands the world famous statue of Christ, measuring 38 meters (98 feet high) with a 26 foot pedestal containing a chapel that can hold 150 people.

Known as Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor), the statue was brought to the top of the hill in 1931. It was elaborated by the Brazilian architect Heitor da Silva Costa and sculpted by the French Paul Landwilk.

In 1993 a new illumination was brought to the statue and now it can be better viewed from the most varied and distant parts of the city. The Corcovado mountain is 704 meters high (2,330 feet above sea level) and it provides the most beautiful view of the city from its top. From that privileged position we can see a breathtaking view of the Guanabara Bay and the Sugar Loaf. It can be accessed by car by the road through the Parque Nacional da Tijuca or by the funicular located in the Estrada de Ferro Corcovado leaving from the Cosme Velho station. The ride to the top takes 16 minutes.

The Sugar Loaf, undoubtedely the most famous natural symbol of Rio de Janeiro, is located in the Guanabara Bay and the access to the top is made by cable car. The journey to the top is divided in two parts. There is a cable car, which rises 705 feet above the bay, departing from the station at Praia Vermelha to the top of the firslt hill, called Morro da Urca (Urca Hill), and another one that goes to the top of the second (almost 400 meters high - 1,300 feet high) which is the Sugar Loaf itself, called Pão-de-Açúcar in Portuguese. Each cable car ride lasts about 3 minutes.

© Irene. Not available for download.

The Sugar Loaf is a group of three hills : The Morro da Urca (Urca hill - Urca is the name of the neighborhood where it's located), the Pão-de-Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) and another one called Morro Cara de Cão (Dog Face hill, if literally translating). On the top of the Morro da Urca there is an area larger than 3.500 m² with restaurants, shops, theater, recreation places for children etc. There is also a small area where the visitants can see some kinds of plants and small birds from Brazil.


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This page was created on: January 24, 2002.
Last updated on: January 26, 2005.

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