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Rio is a marvelous city, one of the most readily identifiable in the world, not least because of its fabled carnival and its iconic statue Christ the Redeemer. This grand dame of South America stretches out between rain forests and emerald half-mooned shaped bays offering two famous beaches, Copacabana as glorified by Barry Manilow and Ipanema by Frank Sinatra

As the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Rio is a bustling metropolis with more than six million inhabitants. While the city attracts nature enthusiasts from around the world its wonderful landmarks are awe-inspiring, here we look at the top Rio de Janeiro Landmarks

Christ the Redeemer

Standing atop the Corcovado Mountain, located in the Tijuca Forest National Forest with his arms spread out, this enormous statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) has been embracing the people of Rio since its inauguration in 1931.

One of the Seven Wonders of the World, this imposing structure of soapstone and cement took nine years to construct and provides panoramic views of Rio below.

The cost in 1931 to construct this art deco statue was approximately $250,000 today that would equate to the equivalent of $3.2 million.

Maracanã Stadium (Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho / Estádio do Maracana)

Fans of legends like Ronaldo, Pele, Romario, Carlos Alberto and Nilton Santos will surely love to pay a visit to the Mecca of Football; the Maracanã Stadium.

Officially inaugurated during the 1950 World Cup, this all-encompassing stadium features a capacity to hold 100,000 cheering fans. If you are lucky enough, it is possible to catch one of your favourite players in action. Otherwise, pay a visit to the sports museum with treasuries in store. The stadium played host to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar)

Named after the traditional sugarloaves used during the yesteryears, the Sugarloaf Mountain is a tall 395 meter peak rising at the Guanabar Bay in the Atlantic Ocean. Right at the top, tourists have the chance of their lifetime to capture photo opportunities of the sparkling Rio beaches, statue of Christ and the green forests. Although, most visitors arrive by a cable car, which takes 2-3 minutes, others can test their enthusiasm and energy by climbing the mountain. The best time to visit the peak is at sunset when the flickering colours of the sun make way for a blanket of stars.

Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro)

The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens is a complete resource on Amazonian tropical species including 5000 varieties of plants explicating the rich botanic diversity of Brazil.

The garden showcases a fine collection of excruciatingly large Victorian water lilies and Japanese plants.

Sitting on the edge of Tijuca Forest, Dom João VI designed the garden himself in 1808 to include plants of artistic, archaeological and historical importance.

Sambadrome (Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí)

During the Carnival season, the fervour gains ground in Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí where samba school dancers compete to become the best in town. Dancers performing to the school’s samba anthem impress the crowd with their music, elaborate costumes and most importantly heart stomping samba dance. The Sambadrome, also known as the Apoteose Square, holds a capacity to accommodate 90,000 people who come to watch the enthralling Carnival parade every year.

Copacabana Beach

Rio will never be complete without the mention of Copacabana Beach. Named after the conspicuous and still distinguished Copacabana Palace Hotel which opened in 1920, this stimulating 4.5 km of crescent coastline never sleep. Visitors play beach soccer, soak in the sun or swing and dance until the wee hours of the morning.

Home to Rio's famous New Year's celebration, it attracts over 2 million people from all over the world. Following local tradition, most people dress in white for good luck and offer a white flower to Yemanjá, the goddess of the seas. The exquisite fireworks festival starts at midnight, lasting almost a half hour. With white sand and waters that are never rough this is also a very popular beach for sunbathing residents and visitors from all over the world mingle. Here you will see families with small children, elderly citizens, the young and beautiful, rich and poor sharing the same beach strip without a care in the world.

Ipanema Beach

Just up the coast from Copacabana sits the more upscale and chic though equally lively beach of Ipanema. Brazilians have known for years this is the place to find the tall, the tan, the young and lovely garotas (young women) even before being immortalized by the composer Tom Jobim.

Repudiated as the birthplace of the tanga (tiny bikini) fashionably conscious sleek and tanned vixens along with their equally seductively male counterparts, parade the white sands in full admiration of their surroundings. Despite the fashion statements Ipanema affords the same bevy of activities as Copacabana,‘ Fruitvale’ (no hands volleyball) soccer, belly boarding are all transpiring but in a more sedate and relaxing atmosphere. The water is calmer and more inviting to the casual swimmer. There is even a separate area for mothers with their babies

Ipanema beach is beyond trendy, its trend setting. For over fifty years contemporary statements have emanated in music, fashion and dance. In the fifties and sixties it was the Bossa Nova, in the seventies the first pregnant lady to wear a bikini. By the eighties men were sporting their own bikinis, women went topless and the tanga became the rage.

Tijuca National Park (Parque Nacional da Tijuca)

Covering some 32 km², Parque Nacional da Tijuca is the world's largest urban forest in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Hand-planted in the 19th century to recover the damage caused by extensive coffee plantations, the wildlife park population includes many insects, ocelots, birds, howler monkeys and other endangered species known only to the Amazon basin.

The park's summit, where the symbolic Christ the Redeemer statue is situated, offers fantastic views over the city and ocean. Although many visit the park by car, hiking tours for the more adventurous type are arranged by a number of local travel agents.

Petrópolis (The Imperial City)

About an hour drive away from Rio is Petrópolis, a town also known as 'The Imperial City of Brazil'. Petrópolis unique location at the foothills of Serra dos Órgãos National Park bestows it with a cool climate, compared to the muggy surroundings of Rio.

A popular resort town, the main attraction of Petropolis is the Summer Palace of the former Brazilian Emperors, which is now restored into a museum displaying Imperial memorabilia. Other notable buildings are the Palacio Cristal glasshouse and the Cathedral


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