Rio de Janeiro, or January River, is a very poetic name for a city with more than 200 rivers running through it. But which river does it refer to? Well, the answer is none of them.
In January 1502, the Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos arrived in Rio for the first time. Legend has it that Lemos was sailing through Guanabara Bay when he came up with the name for the city, mistaking the bay for the mouth of a large river.
Today, some historians dispute that theory, arguing that the Portuguese were too skilled seamen to make such a mistake and that the word for river in the 16th century was also used to identify a bay. Regardless, the name for Rio de Janeiro stuck.
Rio has no shortage of natural postcard beauty, but its most prized feature is not only man-made, it was also chosen as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World in 2007, alongside masterpieces such as Rome’s Colosseum and the Taj Mahal.
The statue of Christ the Redeemer, in fact, defies nature: its 92-meter-wide arms had to be raised above the precipice of the Corcovado mountain with no place for scaffolding.
Inaugurated in 1931, as a tribute to Rio’s 100th anniversary, Christ stands 98 feet tall (not including the 26-foot plinth) and is the largest Art Deco statue in the world. The statue was financed by the Brazilians, designed by the French, and built from Swedish stone. The result is truly divine: despite being struck by lightning several times a year, he lives on strong, watching over the citizens of Wonder City.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, in 2004 the city’s most famous party attracted a record 400,000 foreign visitors, making it the largest carnival party in the world. Apart from outside visitors, around 5 million people take over the streets of Rio each year to take part in hundreds of street parties, called “blocos”, held by samba groups.
Not to mention the thousands of people who buy expensive tickets to watch the acclaimed competition parades, featuring the best samba schools in Rio. A party not to be missed!
There are more than 1,000 slums, or favelas, in Rio – and almost one-fourth of Cariocas (locals) live in them. Rio’s modest residents have been living in favelas since the end of the 19th century, which is the most affordable housing option. It was there, in the favelas, that former African slaves and their descendants first created the music style we now know as samba.
Nowadays, most of the city’s renowned samba schools that compete in the world-famous parade every carnival are located in favelas or close by. Mangueira, Salgueiro, and Unidos da Tijuca are some of them.
Rio doesn’t lack natural beauty for postcards, but its most acclaimed feature is not only man-made but was also elected one of the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007, alongside masterpieces like the Roman Colosseum and the Taj Mahal. The statue of Christ the Redeemer, in fact, defies nature: its 92-foot-wide arms had to be built over the precipices of Corcovado Mountain without room for scaffolding.
Inaugurated in 1931, as a tribute to Rio’s 100th anniversary, the Christ is 98 feet tall (not including the 26-foot pedestal) and the largest Art Deco statue in the world. The statue was financed by Brazilians, designed by a Frenchmen, and built from Swedish stones. The result is truly divine: despite the fact it is struck by lightning a couple of times a year, it lives on strong, watching over the citizens of the Marvelous City.
Clear skies, warm sand, a cold drink… Isn’t that what everyone wants for their holiday? Well, in Rio you will not only find that but also the bluest sky in the whole wide world. The statement seems audacious, but it’s actually based on a survey done in 2006 by a TV researcher who traveled around the globe in search of the world’s “bluest” sky.