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COPACABANA BEACH – RIO DE JANEIRO

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photo by: Roman Kajzer @FotoManiacNYC

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Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro
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Copacabana is Rio de Janeiro’s most vibrant and eclectic district, with countless attractions for locals and visitors. With over 160 thousand residents, it’s almost a city within itself. The beach, landmark buildings, legendary nightclubs, restaurants, boutiques, and the trademark sidewalks are more than enough to captivate you. As you walk around and discover the parks, squares, sights, and especially the people, you will become a fan for life.

Copacabana is one of the reasons why people fall in love at first sight with Rio. The Princess of the Sea is one of the best areas for you to stay, with a higher concentration of hotels than any other neighborhood in town. Like Ipanema and Leblon, Copacabana and Leme share the same beach. This is where Rio’s New Year’s Celebrations happen, attracting 2 million people every year.

The name Copacabana has a Bolivian origin. Historians trace it to a XVII century image of Our Virgin Lady of Copacabana, brought by the Portuguese from a small village around distant Lake Titicaca. It was installed in a chapel that would later be demolished for the construction of Forte de Copacabana.

Until the late XIX century Copacabana was considered a distant area. It was covered with sand, dunes and shrubs – not unlike Barra in the 60’s. A small fishermen’s village concentrated most of the dwellers. The neighborhood only started to grow with the opening of Tunel Velho, connecting it to Botafogo and Downtown.

The inauguration of the Av. Atlantica along the beach around the 1900’s was a major turning point. When Copacabana Palace Hotel opened its doors in 1923, romance and glamour became Copacabana trademarks. Neoclassical and art-nouveau skyscrapers (4 to 12 stories high) added a touch of sophistication and wealthy Cariocas started to move to the suspended mansions.

Copacabana today is one of Rio’s most democratic and eclectic neighborhoods. There are penthouses and apartments along the beach that are easily worth more than a million dollars. There are also buildings with as many as thirty tiny studio apartments on the same floor, and no parking garage.

Copacabana is perfectly suitable for walking tours, as it is basically flat, and distances are relatively small. To better understand the diversity of the neighborhood we suggest you take your time, and use one or two days exploring all possibilities. Copacabana has a little (and sometimes a lot) of everything, and there’s fun for everyone.

Wake up early and watch the sun rise out of the Atlantic Ocean. Somewhere else in Copacabana, at this very same time, fishermen are pulling their nets, senior citizens are going for their daily walk and dip in the sea, the first batch of fresh-baked bread is ready for sale at dozens of bakeries, and bouncers of Lido nightclubs are finally calling it a night.

If Rio is a city that never sleeps, Copacabana is on an guarana overdose. Copacabana Beach is where to spend New Year’s Eve, a party that attracts two million people from all over the world. The fireworks festival and the stages with live music shows are a big plus, but the Cariocas are the main attraction. Most everybody dresses in white, a tradition to bring peace and good luck.

Copacabana keeps a close relationship with its neighbors. Walk South and after you pass Posto 6, it’s 5 minutes to Arpoador and Ipanema. Go North to Leme. Lagoa is Southwest, a short tunnel leads you to Botafogo, Flamengo and Downtown.

This is the neighborhood of Rio with the highest concontration of hotels, and there are options in all price ranges. They tend to be lower-priced than their counterparts in Ipanema and Leblon.

BELOW INFO COPIED FROM WIKIPEDIA

Copacabana is a bairro (neighbourhood) located in the Zona Sul (southern zone) of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is known for its 4 km balneario beach, which is one of the most famous in the world.

The district was originally called Sacopenapã (translated from the tupi language, it means "the way of the socós (a kind of bird)" until the mid-18th century. It was renamed after the construction of a chapel holding a replica of the Virgen de Copacabana, the patron saint of Bolivia.

Copacabana begins at Princesa Isabel Avenue and ends at Posto Seis (lifeguard watchtower Six). Beyond Copacabana, there are two small beaches: one, inside Fort Copacabana and other, right after it: Diabo (Devil) Beach. Arpoador beach, where surfers used to go after its perfect waves, comes in the sequence, followed by the famous borough of Ipanema. The area will be one of the four Olympic Zones during the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Copacabana beach stretches from Posto Dois (lifeguard watchtower Two) to Posto Seis (lifeguard watchtower Six). Leme is at Posto Um (lifeguard watchtower One). There are historic forts at both ends of Copacabana beach; Fort Copacabana, built in 1914, is at the south end by Posto Seis and Fort Duque de Caxias, built in 1779, at the north end. One curiosity is that the lifeguard watchtower of Posto Seis never existed.
Hotels, restaurants, bars, night clubs and residential buildings dot the promenade. The Copacabana promenade is a pavement landscape in large scale (4 kilometres long). It was completed in 1970 and has used a black and white Portuguese pavement design since its origin in the 1930s: a geometric wave. The Copacabana promenade was designed by Roberto Burle Marx.

Copacabana Beach plays host to millions of revelers during the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations and, in most years, has been the official venue of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

More than 40 different bus routes serve Copacabana, as do three subway Metro stations: Cantagalo, Siqueira Campos and Cardeal Arcoverde.
Three major arteries parallel to each other cut across the entire borough: Atlantic Avenue, which is a 6 lane 4 km avenue by the beachside, Nossa Senhora de Copacabana Avenue and Barata Ribeiro/Raul Pompéia Street both of which are 4 lanes and 3.5 km in length. Barata Ribeiro Street changes its name to Raul Pompéia Street after the Sá Freire Alvim Tunnel. Twenty-four streets intersect all three major arteries, and seven other streets intersect some of the three, but not all.

RIO DE JANEIRO

The Cariocas (Rio locals) have a saying: God made the world in seven days, and the eighth he devoted to Rio de Janeiro. Given its oceanfront setting, protected by Guanabara Bay and lounging between sandy shores and forested granite peaks, you might forgive the hyperbole.

Sugar Loaf Mountain rises vertically out of the azure Atlantic, while Christ the Redeemer, arms wide open, watches over the city from atop Corcovado Mountain. You’ll find beaches for strolling or watching the locals play volleyball, and the galleries and museums of the arty, bohemian Santa Teresa district. Visiting the vibrant favelas (shanty towns) gains you an utterly different perspective (not to mention great views) of one of South America’s most intoxicating metropolises.

Known around the world as the Wonderful City, Rio de Janeiro is the perfect combination of sea, mountain and forest.

Stunning natural sceneries, a free-spirited and welcoming people that transform anything into a party, and world-famous iconic monuments. These are the elements that make Rio de Janeiro a one-of-a-kind and unforgettable destination.

The enviable collections in Rio’s museums hold fascinating treasures telling the tale of its 450 years of history. Land of the Carnaval and Samba, the city also offers countless theaters, concert venues, business centers and restaurants open year-round.

But it is the combination between geographical traits – the sea, mountains and forests – and human culture that makes Rio de Janeiro such a unique city. Almost the entire city is surrounded by dazzling landscapes. Rio was the world’s first city to be listed as Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

In addition to its most famous attractions, such as Christ the Redeemer – an art deco statue of Jesus Christ – and Pão de Açúcar – a mountain range –, the city also offers endless programs involving nature, adventure, religion, history and culture, such as walks through the Botanical Garden and the Santa Teresa tram, visits to the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Museum of Modern Art, and the possibility of jumping over the Pedra Bonita ramp and flying across the city.

Sports are also very important among cariocas (as those born in Rio are nicknamed). It is really no surprise that the Wonderful City was chosen to host the Rio 2016™ Olympic Games. There are always volleyball, soccer and footvolley matches being played anywhere across the city’s 90 km of beaches. The city is the largest urban climbing center in the world, providing options that accommodate all levels of difficulty, such as Pedra da Gávea and Bico do Papagaio.

The Tijuca National Park – the world’s largest urban forest – is also a great place for walks and other sports, such as rock climbing and free flight. In addition to preserving the Atlantic Forest, the Park protects springs and basins, such as those of the Carioca and Maracanã rivers, which supply water to part of the city.

Things to see and do in Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer and Corcovado Mountain
The statue’s iconic stance was not, in fact, the original design: earlier blueprints showed Christ carrying a cross. In the finished result, Christ himself makes the shape of the cross, his outstretched arms signifying a gesture of peace, as if he’s embracing the whole city beneath his feet. Peering up at the 30 m (98 ft) statue from its base, you begin to see the patchwork of weathered greenish-grey tiles covering its surface, and the lightning rods crowning the head like thorns.

Created by French and Romanian sculptors and Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, the statue was commissioned by the Catholic Circle of Rio as a response to the ‘godlessness’ of society post World War I. Although Cristo Redentor (as it’s called in Portuguese) can be seen from virtually anywhere in the city, getting up close to the statue reveals otherwise invisible details, such as the outline of a heart bulging from the chest. Just inside the base is a minuscule chapel where multilingual masses are held.

The best way of getting to the viewing platforms below the statue’s pedestal is to take the cog wheel train up through Tijuca, the world’s largest urban forest, on Corcovado. On a clear day, you can look out over downtown Rio and the bay. Yet visiting the statue on a rainy day can be equally rewarding, as the crowds mostly scatter and you have the views to yourself.

Sugar Loaf Mountain
In a city that’s not short of panoramic viewpoints, the summit of this smooth granite monolith at the mouth of Guanabara Bay offers one of the finest. A three minute cable car journey takes you to the top, from where you can look back at Rio. In the foreground, tropical forest (where several rare orchid species grow) covers the lower part of the mountain, while Christ the Redeemer appears like a tiny stick man saluting you from a distant pinnacle.

From this vantage point, you can see just how much Rio is sliced up by hills and peaks, such as the ridge separating Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. In the day, look out for rock climbers scaling Sugar Loaf’s four faces, but the ideal time to visit is sunset when the city becomes bathed in soft amber light.

The Avenida Atlântica promenade
One of the simplest but most effective ways of getting a feel for Rio is by strolling the promenade of the Avenida Atlântica. This 4 km (2.5 miles) oceanside avenue stretches from the area of Leme, near Sugar Loaf Mountain, to the end of Copacabana Beach.

The promenade’s striking Portuguese-style paving runs in geometric waves alongside Leme and Copacabana beaches. The beaches are Rio’s great social melting pot and locals from all walks of life, from the wealthy quarters and the favelas alike, come here to relax. On Sundays, the sand becomes near-invisible under a sea of parasols.

Looking out to the beaches, you’ll see games of volleyball (and soccer-volleyball, a home-grown variant), exercise classes, paddle boarders, sunbathers, surfers and gaggles of children. Groups gather around slacklines hitched up between palm trees. Workout stations are posted at intervals along the beaches. Shacks rent out parasols and kiosks sell coconuts, acai and other fresh juices, as well as the ubiquitous caipirinhas (the national cocktail, made with sugarcane liquor and lime), while roving vendors ply the sands touting ice-cold drinks. In the evening, saxophonists and other street musicians set up shop on the promenade.

The Rio Scenarium Club in Lapa
By day, Rio’s Lapa district is a compact, quiet area of restored 19th-century pastel mansions that speak of old Lisbon. By night, it roars into life. These faded colonial façades house bars, traditional barbecue restaurants and clubs that pound with the sounds of samba (and all its variations), bossa nova, Brazilian jazz, reggae from Bahia, and even Brazil’s own takes on rock and pop. The rhythms spill over into the streets, as do the clientele. On a weekend, the area around the Arcos da Lapa, a bright white aqueduct, is closed off to traffic and given over to the party goers and samba bands.

One of the best clubs is Rio Scenarium, a three-decker nightspot-come-antique-store idiosyncratically decorated with clocks, chandeliers, gilt mirrors, bright upholstery and other eccentric touches. It has a mezzanine overlooking the stage area, where musicians play everything from samba to forró. The latter is a fast-paced music style from northeastern Brazil and a striking partner dance involving much skipping and spinning.

Tour the favelas
Shanty towns are a disquieting but undeniable part of Rio. Endless-seeming jumbles of ramshackle shacks with corrugated iron roofs cling to the hills and mountainsides around Rio, intersected with narrow alleys, steep staircases and sluggish funiculars. They’re informal settlements originally built without planning permission as Rio expanded and workers flocked to the city but couldn’t afford the rents nor the commute from the cheaper suburbs. Today they’re undergoing a pacification process. The best way to visit them is via a favela tour with a guide who is able to help you explore these resourceful communities in a sensitive and respectful way.

Santa Marta is a particularly eye-catching favela, with houses that have been painted in vivid rainbow hues. Shops display bright hand-painted illustrations and murals showcasing their wares and services. Walls are emblazoned with graffiti and political messages. Lines of laundry and many a Brazilian flag are strung up between dwellings. Look out too for the mosaic mural and statue of Michael Jackson, who filmed his music video for They Don’t Care About Us here.

The Santa Teresa district
A rickety tram ride takes you to the top of the hill where this area of colonial old Rio begins. Its cobbled streets and belle époque mansions evoke its fin-de-siècle heyday, when industrialists, rich from Brazil’s coffee industry, moved there in droves. Then, in the 60s and 70s, the area was rediscovered by artists and creatives. Their traces live on in the district’s galleries, studios, handicraft shops and little backstreet bistros.

A number of historic buildings are found here, from an 18th-century convent to a 19th-century castle. The Parque das Ruinas, the shell of a mansion destroyed in a fire, is now a public park that offers some sweeping views over the downtown and bay area.

Climb the steps of the Escadaria Selarón
Covered in a mosaic of deftly painted tiles in the three shades of the Brazilian flag, this celebrated flight of steps is found in Lapa. Its creator, the Chilean painter Jorge Selarón, intended the steps as a tribute to his adopted country and spent years hunting down the scraps of tiles used in their design. Later, he added red tiles to surround the steps, admiring the ‘vivacity’ of this shade. On his death, local people carpeted the escadaria in candles.

The staircase has since been widely embraced by both the local community and the international media, providing the backdrop to many commercials and music videos.

Tijuca Atlantic Forest
A designated national park, this tropical rainforest is a contender for the title of the world’s largest urban forest. It’s a dense meandering mass of vegetation, home to wildlife including coatimundis and sloths, and exotic flora such a lobster-claw plants and birds of paradise. Shafts of sunlight pierce the tall canopy, lighting up the many hiking trails and walkways that crisscross the forest. Waterfalls cascade down rock faces and occasionally the greenery gives way to man-made viewpoints where you can look down over the rest of the forest, the beaches, the district of Lagoa, Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf.

You can explore the forest through guided walks and 4×4 tours which take you to the best viewpoints.

Best time to visit Rio de Janeiro
December to February is high season, and although there’s a lot going on (including Carnival) the city can get extremely busy. July and August sees the coolest temperatures. The months of March and April, and September and October, offer clement, sunny weather and fewer crowds, but it’s safe to say that the city can be a year-round destination.

Festivals, events and seasonal reasons to visit
Rio de Janeiro is at its most lively and exuberant during Carnival, when the samba schools dance and parade through the streets in kaleidoscopic, highly imaginative costumes or ride flamboyantly themed giant floats, and the air is full of cheers, whistles and drumming. Carnival takes place annually in February and ends on Ash Wednesday. It’s followed by the Winners’ Parade the week after, which is a little more accessible to visitors and still offers the same exultant, high-quality performances.

LINKS:

www.rio.com
www.VisitBrasil.com
www.RioDeJaneiro.com
www.Brazil.org – Rio de Janeiro

Conde Nast Traveler – Rio de Janeiro
Travel Channel – Rio de Janeiro
Lonely Planet – Rio de Janeiro
Trip Advisor – Rio de Janeiro

Audley Travel – Tours in Rio and rest of Brazil
VIATOR – Tours & Activities in Rio de Janeiro

US News – Best Things To Do in Rio de Janeiro
NY Times – 36 hours in Rio de Janeiro
WIKIPEDIA – Rio de Janeiro

JW MARRIOTT in Copacabana Rio de Janeiro
casamarquesrio.com

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