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An imposing domed building that dates back to the late 19th Century in the heart of the downtown district, this is one of the country's best cultural centers. It includes a cinema with high-quality art films, state-of-the-art theaters, and a large exhibition of fine arts and photography, with some permanent exhibitions like the collection of Brazilian coins. Displays are diverse, ranging from photography to experimental film festivals. Daily newspapers will have the schedule of events, some of which are free of charge.
This 2013 addition to the city's cultural landscape has a futuristic look that will surely dazzle you. Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR) comprises of two buildings that belong to different eras. The first one is the 1916 Dom João VI Mansion, an eclectic, heritage structure and the other one was a former bus terminal which was revamped to its current modern look. These are connected by a crest-like canopy which is sustained by white pillars. The museum's exhibition halls are located in the mansion and displays artworks between 1920 to 1980. There are also educational visits for students and other organizations. A visit here will definitely be an eye opener as it shows the different shades of Rio.
Built in 1908, inspired by the Louvre, it is the main fine arts museum in Rio. The Brazilian collection is organized in chronological order in the main gallery, and shows the evolution of fine arts in Brazil from the 19th Century to this date. Famous names such as Candido Portinari, Taunay, Pedro Américo and Victor Meirelles are represented here through some of their most significant works. In the other galleries, the work of contemporary and foreign artists is exhibited, along with an interesting set of sculptures and samples of African art.
Finished in 1909, the Theatro Municipal was built along the lines of the Paris Opera. It is home to the city's orchestra, opera and ballet ensembles. It is built in the Neoclassical style, all in marble, granite and bronze, and is one of the most prestigious venues in the country for big performances. There is also a bar and restaurant, the famous and imposing Café do Teatro, decorated with Assyrian-style mosaics.
Built in 1762 as an arsenal, the Museu Histórico Nacional was also a military prison until 1922, when it was converted into an exhibition center for the celebration of 100th anniversary of the independence from Portugal. Here you will find objects and models that retrace the history of Brazil since its discovery, with special attention to the slavery period and the sugar cane industry.
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.
Jardim Botânico or the Botanical garden makes for a fun and educational day trip with your kids. Spread across an area of 140.83 hectares (348 acres) and housing nearly 6000 species of plants and shrubs, it is a must visit attraction, while in Rio de Janeiro. You can also avail services of tourist guides who will take you through the garden and give an in-depth explanation on variety of trees and plant specimens.
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.
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.
This four kilometer (2.49 mile) stretch skirting the Copacabana Beach, is one of the city's most picturesque avenues. Lined with excellent hotels, restaurants and boutiques, Avenida Atlantica sees a perennial bustle throughout the day, populated not just by tourists, but locals as well. The street is a major site of the city's extravagant New Year's Eve celebrations as well.
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.