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Sexy Rio - More Than Sun, Sea and Samba
For most people, thoughts of Rio conjure up visions of long stretches of beach crammed with beautiful people decked out in skimpy tangas. For others, tales of the renowned – and raucous – Carnaval, where the samba beat goes on day and night for three days come to mind.
But it’s so much more than that. It is a happy city, filled with laughter and music, offering the perfect honeymoon option any time of year.
The renowned Belmond Copacabana Palace – a favorite with the glitterati since it opened in 1923 – is the perfect pied-a-terre for your visit. Its privileged location on Copacabana Beach provides the perfect launch pad from which to visit the city’s sights.
For sun worshippers, the beaches, of course are the main draw with the most publicized: Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema – made famous by the hit tune - “Girl from Ipanema” – leading the list.
Nature lovers will be drawn to the Botanical Gardens, (Jardim Botânico) created in 1808 offers an opportunity to get up close and personal with the area’s flora. With more than 8,000 plant species, it has been designated a "Live Museum" and is a popular destination for visitors and residents alike. Another natural beauty is Tijuca Forest, said to be the largest urban forest in the world.
Signature Sights -
Mention Rio and you probably conjure up visions of Corcovado, where the impressive statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor), arms outstretched, watches over Rio from his perch high above the sea.
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. In the 19th century, Vincentian Father Pedro Maria Boss arrived in Rio and suggested the construction of a religious monument, which was inaugurated in 1931.
Another signature sight - 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're treated to romantic sweeping vistas of the city, the beaches hugging the Bay of Guanabara, and beyond.
History buffs will enjoy a tour of Forte de Copacabana, built in 1914 on the promontory of the Our Lady of Copacabana chapel. The fort was one of Rio's premier defenses against attack and you can still see its original features, including the canons and a museum tracing the early days of the Portuguese colony to the mid-19th-century.
There is no denying its inherent sexiness and natural beauty, but there's more to the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City) than sun, sea and samba. The city has morphed into a sophisticated metropolis boasting excellent museums, scintillating nightspots, a plethora of delicious dining spots and a collection of wildlife, unique attractions and breath-taking sights.
If you happen to visit during Carnaval, be sure to visit the Sambadrome (Sambódromo), a stadium designed by Oscar Niemeyer and inaugurated in 1984 where a host of Carnaval festivities are staged.
A melting pot of diverse cultures, Rio offers an interesting peek into traditions – musical and otherwise – drawn from its rich heritage.
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