Following UNESCO’s announcement in January naming Rio de Janeiro as the first ‘World Capital of Architecture’ for 2020, specialist UK tour operator Journey Latin America has put together their own top 10 must see iconic architectural masterpieces that have transformed the landscape and revolutionised the ‘marvellous city’.
Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian
Inaugurated in 1979 and located in the city centre, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian also referred to as the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro is a modernist concrete edifice built in the style of a Mayan pyramid. Designed by architect Edgar Fonseca, inside you see an impressive ceiling cross and stunning stained glass windows.
Located near Cinelândia, a lively square in downtown Rio is home to the gold-gilded Municipal Theatre. Built in 1905 and designed by architect Francisco de Oliveira Passos, the exterior was designed in an eclectic style, inspired by Charles Garnier’s Paris Opera and is home to Rio’s opera, orchestra and ballet.
Museum of Tomorrow
The area around the port at Praça Mauá has had a multi-million dollar makeover in recent years, stimulated by the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Outstanding is the space-age interactive Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow), a graceful futuristic science museum inaugurated in 2015 and designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel
Opened in 1923, this grand neo-classical building is an icon of an era which personifies elegance and privilege. Located at the end of Copacabana beach, this first-class hotel enjoys a prime location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. French architect Joseph Gire was commissioned to carry out the project, drawing inspiration from two famous hotels on the French Riviera: the Negresco, in Nice, and the Carlton, in Cannes.
Copacabana Beach promenade
The mosaic promenade along Copacabana Beach was Roberto Burle Marx most significant design for Rio de Janeiro in 1971. It is a modern interpretation of a traditional Portuguese paving pattern using waves of black and white stone sets.
Casa Das Canoas – Oscar Niemeyer’s house
Designed by famed Brazilian architect Niemeyer in 1951 as his family home, Casa Das Canoas is considered one of the most significant examples of modern Brazilian architecture. The dwelling, located in the suburb of Barra da Tijuca, blends elements of organic and minimalist architecture; built into the slope of a hill it incorporates existing boulders into its interior.
Gustavo Capanema Palace
The Gustavo Capanema Palace also known as the Ministry of Education and Health Building is a government office building in the city centre. As the first modernist building in the Americas, it is historically important to the architectural development of Modernism in Brazil. Designed by Lúcio Costa and overseen by Niemeyer, it opened in 1943.
Niterói Contemporary Art Museum
The Niterói Contemporary Art Museum also known as MAC was designed by Niemeyer and completed in 1995.
This iconic saucer-shaped structure is positioned on a cliffside above Guanabara Bay and offers one of the best panoramic views of the city.
President Costa e Silva Bridge
Opened in 1974 the President Costa e Silva Bridge, widely known as the Rio-Niterói Bridge, is a box-girder bridge crossing Guanabara Bay. Spanning a total of 13.2km, the bridge connects Rio with Niterói and is currently the longest concrete bridge in the South America.
Inaugurated in 1950 the world’s most famous football stadium the Maracanã underwent significant refurbishment ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup hosted in Brazil. The works involved the complete rebuilding of the bottom tier and the installation of a new roof with a capacity of 79,000 seats as a result.
Product Manager David Nichols comments “This latest accolade is great news for Brazil’s second city. Traditionally it’s Rio’s magnificent setting and inimitable beach culture which has grabbed the world’s attention but today’s visitors are discovering there much more to Rio beyond the clichés. It’s a constantly-evolving city with real depth and interest: Portuguese tile townhouses, Niemeyer classics, revived downtown and port districts and world class museums. Rio’s moment is here.’
Journey Latin America can incorporate a visit to any of the listed sites as part of a wider holiday itinerary.
Their 13-day Signature Brazil: Brazil at a glance holiday visit Rio, Iguaçu, the Amazon and Salvador. The holiday costs from £3,665 per person and includes flights, transfers, excursions, good quality mid-range hotels, breakfast daily and full board in the Amazon.
For more information visit journeylatinamerica.co.uk or call 0203 553 9647.
About Journey Latin America
Journey Latin America is the UK’s leading specialist in travel to Central and South America having dedicated themselves exclusively to this region for almost 40 years. With a huge wealth of knowledge and expertise they offer a vast range of small escorted group tours and can design unique holidays for families, solo travellers and couples.