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Real Gabinete Português de Leitura was built between 1880-1887 and has more than 350,000 volumes, among them a rare 1572 edition of Luís de Camões's "Os Lusíadas." It has the largest Portuguese literary collections outside of Portugal. This magnificent, Gothic-Renaissance style bibliotheca has a carved facade that was influenced by Lisbon's Jeronimos Monastery and has sculptures of eminent Portuguese such as Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões. The ornate interiors are breathtaking with its chandelier and red, white and blue stained-glass sky-lamp.
Igreja e Mosteiro de São Bento was built in the early 17th-century by Benedictine monks as a place for worship and study. he façade is simple yet pleasant, while the baroque interior abounds with gold and silver, from the wood carvings of the altar to the spiral columns. This old church offers everything for the visitor: interesting history, colonial architecture and a richly decorated interior.
Named for Santa Teresa Convent from the 1750s, this neighborhood, with its winding streets and hilltop views, is a major attraction for tourists and artists alike. Although no longer the affluent area it once was, Santa Teresa is still home to some mansions, one of which is the Chácara do Céu, which was once home to art collector Raimundo Otoni Castro Maya. It now serves as the Museu da Chácara do Céu. Visitors should definitely take the tram ride that starts at the city center and takes them through the streets of Santa Teresa.
In order to bolster faith during the turbulent years following World War I, the Cristo Redentor, or Christ The Redeemer, was built as a watchful symbol over Mount Corcovado. The Statue stands atop a pedestal, a symbol of spiritual re-awakening that gazes onto the city below. The brainchild of Heitor da Silva Costa and French sculptor Paul Landowski, the statue soars over city limits at a height of 38 meters (125 feet), including its pedestal. The magnificent figurine is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone, and features a quiet chapel at the base. With its outstretched arms, the Christ The Redeemer Statue denotes a convergence of olden depictions of Christ (symbolizing the cross), and more modern interpretations that believe it to be a symbol of peace.
At 710 meters (2329 feet), this hunchback mountain is where the Christ Redeemer statue stands with outstretched arms. At night, the 30-meter (98-foot) statue seems to float as if it were a guardian angel for the city. Of course it will be crowded with many tourists, but, nothing can prepare you for the view you will witness. Stand with the statue at your back, and to your left is the soccer temple Maracanã and the northern districts. Straight ahead in the distance is Niterói with its snaky bridge and Rio's other must see, the hump of the Sugarloaf. To the right is the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in the foreground, and Copacabana and Ipanema beaches further out.
Pão de Açúcar or Sugarloaf Mountain is Rio's most visited landmark. Soaring above the clouds, this mountain peak is connected to the city below by two cable cars that climb to the peak. At a height of 396 meters (1299 feet) above Rio, the mountain offers panoramic views of the Guanabara Bay with its curving coastline, the towering Christ the Redeemer statue, and the Corcovado Mountain. At sunrise and sunset, light envelopes the horizon and spreads over the city below, creating a mesmerizing view that's hard to beat.
An unmistakable landmark from the top of Corcovado and a breathtaking view as you leave the tunnel, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is largely used by locals as a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors to Rio generally take advantage of the wonderful water-side walk and bike path along with the public tennis, volleyball courts, the baseball diamond and the soccer grounds. At night, the lagoon's banks are flooded with a constellation of kiosks that offer a plethora of local delights. That complemented with some catchy live music makes for a truly memorable experience.
The most famous beach in the world, Copacabana has lost little of its mystique and charm over the years. Positioned in a wonderfully rich setting with a backdrop of sharply rising hills and a concrete jungle, this is the best place to feel the Carioca spirit. Sit at one of the many restaurants along the beachfront to enjoy a batida or caipirinha, or take a stroll on the famous and often imitated Burle Marx designed sidewalks. In the summertime, its pristine sandy landscapes are dotted with prolific sunbathers who come here from all parts of the city just to bask under Rio's bright mid-day sun. Surfing is permitted here.
The best place to visit to get an idea of what Rio once looked like, with miles of tropical rain-forests, walking trails, stunning views of the city, waterfalls, creeks and greenery. At this huge urban reserve, it only takes about 20 minutes to immerse yourself in nature. Serious hikers can climb to the summit of Pico da Tijuca, while others can simply enjoy the waterfall, Cascatinha Taunay, at the Alto da Boa Vista.
Named for the vibrant Ipanema neighborhood it's located in, Ipanema Beach truly embodies the Brazilian spirit that inspired the Bossa Nova song "The Girl from Ipanema". Sparkling white sand stretches as far as the eye can see and the Dos Hermanos (Two Brothers) mountains form a picturesque backdrop. Rio's tropical weather means plenty of Sun, and the beach draws crowds of Brazilians and visitors looking to relax here. Each of Ipanema's postos or zones has a unique spirit, from the vibrant Posto 9 with its party vibe to the surf-friendly Posto 7. Beach culture at its best, Ipanema offers something for every visitor. Due to the forceful undertow, it's best to swim with caution.