Ever since the 1933’s Fred Astaire – Ginger Rogers musical “Flying Down to Rio,” portrayed Rio as a city of beach, song, sybarites and socialites, Copacabana has been the well-known playground of sybarites, socialites and movie stars.
Today, it is a premier honeymoon destination with swank hotels, delightful bistros, cafes and posh boutiques – and of course, its long stretch of famous beach lined by the unique undulating black-and-white Portuguese-style mosaic sidewalks.
Beyond the beaches, there is a lot to do in this beautiful city by the sea.
New Year’s Eve celebrations here are unusual. Following a tradition of the Candomblé and Umbanda religions, residents, dressed in white, throw flowers into the sea, an offering of thanks to Iemanjá, mother of the waters and of other gods.
Forte de Copacabana, built in 1914 on the promontory of the old Our Lady of Copacabana chapel, is another interesting site, with a museum with several floors of exhibits tracing the early days of the Portuguese colony to the mid-19th-century.
The Confeitaria Colombo, located there, serves everything from tea to dinners and offers spectacular seaside views.
Corcovado – Christ the Redeemer Statue
When the Portuguese first arrived in the 16th century, they, named the mountain Pináculo da Tentação (The Pinnacle of Temptation), alluding to the Biblical Mountain. A century later, the mountain was renamed Corcovado, a name derived from its form, which resembles a hump or hunchback.
Later, in the 19th century, Vicentian Father Pedro Maria Boss arrived in Rio and suggested the construction of a religious monument. The rest, as they say, is history.
An international icon since it was constructed, the statue of Corcovado, known as Cristo Redentor (Christ Redeemer) has watched over Rio from the top of the Morro do Corcovado, since its inauguration in 1931. Designed by Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and constructed by French sculptor Paul Landownsky, it stands 98 feet high on a 26 foot pedestal.
Facing Sugar Loaf Mountain and, with arms outstretched, the Cristo Redentor seemingly the city and its denizens far beneath it and it draws thousands of visitors daily.
Perched atop Rio’s highest peak, in the Carioca Mountain Range in Tijuca National Park, the statue was recently named one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World” in a list compiled by the Swiss-based The New Open World Corporation.
Board a train and ride to the top summit, then continue up escalators to the main viewing platform. Also located here is a chapel in honor of our Lady of Aparecida, patron Saint of Brazil.
The recently refurbished Cosme Velho train station features a new boarding area, tourist shops, VIP rooms and an auditorium.
One of the city’s other signature sights, since it opened in 1912, is Sugarloaf (Pão de Açucar) which is reached via a series of cable cars taking you to the top of the mountain, high above Rio. Once there, you’ll see sweeping vistas of the city, the beaches the Bay of Guanabara and beyond.
The Copacabana Palace Hotel, Rio’s most renowned hotel promises a perfect honeymoon haven during your stay. Opened in 1923, it’s location on Copacabana Beach, provides the perfect launch pad from which to visit the city’s sights. An icon since it opened, it embodies the glamour of Rio and continues to be the meeting place for Rio’s high-society to this day.