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Big names in the football world including Pelé, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, and Zico have played at the Estadio do Maracana. This stadium hosted the dramatic 1950 World Cup final where Uruguay stole the world championship from hosts Brazil in one of the most incredible matches in football history. Popularly known as the Maracanã, this arena is one of the largest stadiums in the world. In addition to football, the stadium also holds music concerts and has hosted performances by Tina Turner and Paul McCartney, among others. Guided tours of the venue are available that offer glimpses of the changing rooms, views of the pitch from the stands, and a chance to witness the bronzed footprints of Pelé. It was one of the host stadiums for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the venue for the final.
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.
Copacabana is one of the most prominent neighborhoods in Rio. Blessed with the Copacabana beach, its pristine sands and azure waters stretch for almost 4 kilometers (2.48 miles). Right on the promenade, there are a plethora of luxury hotels, upscale restaurants and bars. Other than being a tourist hotspot, this neighborhood has achieved legendary status over the years for its vibrant nightlife.
This beach-side suburb of Rio is home to some of the city's most famous citizens. From celebrities to business tycoons, this neighborhood is dotted with houses of globally renowned personalities. As one would expect, the area is replete with some of the city's best businesses, from luxurious hotels and restaurants to happening nightclubs and designer boutiques. The serene beach, named after the neighborhood is its most popular attraction.
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.
The Escadaria Selaron, or Lapa Steps as they are widely known, were created as a tribute to the people of Brazil by Chilean artist Selaron. He has decorated the long, wide stairway between Lapa and Santa Teresa with green, blue and gold (the colors of the Brazilian flag) ceramic tiles to create a stunning mosaic. The walls of the stairway are a similar color, with the artist using tiles from around the world as a base on which to paint his own, unique images. U2, along with Snoop Dogg and Pharrell, are among the famous artists to have filmed here.
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.
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.
Parque Lage is a beautiful public park in Jardim Botânico. Nestled at the foothills of the Corcovado mountain, this natural oasis is somewhat secluded and off most tourist maps. It is home to the former abode of industrialist Enrique Lage, from whom the park gets its name. Take the hiking trail and explore its subtropical plantations and mysterious spots, and make your way to the top of the peak. An oasis of greenery and tranquility amid the urban bustle, this sprawling park is a must visit to experience a breather.
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.