Rio de Janeiro is a city well known for its beautiful beaches, colourful culture and world famous carnival. But this South American city holds a few secrets.
In honour of the upcoming annual Rio Carnival taking place from 24 February to 1 March, Melanmag.com has put together a list of 10 things you may not know about Rio.
- Christ the Redeemer: wonder of the world
Perhaps the most famous monument in Rio, Christ the Redeemer was elected one of the new 7 Wonders of the World in 2007, alongside other historic beauties like the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China. The 30-metre tall statue, one of the largest in the world, watches over the citizens of the city from the Corcovado Mountain.
- The world’s bluest sky
You’ve probably thought before whilst you were lounging on your chair by the pool in summer, or walking around on a sunny day, “Wow, I’ve never seen a sky so blue!” Well, compared to the sky in Rio, it was probably nothing. Rio has it all, the beach, the sun and the bluest sky in the world. Don’t believe us? Take it from the TV researcher Anya Hohnbaum who made the statement. She travelled to 20 different destinations in search of the ‘bluest sky’, and if New Zealand and South Africa didn’t make the cut, it must be true!
- The Rio Carnival marks Lent
Rio de Janeiro hosts a carnival filled with dancers, parades, music and lots of fun every year, but did you know it also marks the beginning of Lent? Considered to be the biggest carnival in the world with over two million people per day in the streets, tourists and locals join in on the street parties, called “blocos” and watch the Samba groups compete in the celebration.
- The eighth biggest library in the world
Mostly known for its parties and beautiful scenery, you would hardly suspect that Rio is actually home to the eighth biggest library in the world. In 1807, when the Royal Family of Portugal fled their country to escape Napoleon, they packed up the Royal Library and its 60 000 items, and crossed the ocean where it has since resided in Rio.
The first and second are the Library of Congress in the US and the British Library in the UK.
- Floresta Da Tijuca (Tijuca Forest)
The Tijuca Forest is a tropical rainforest situated in the city of Rio, and covers 32 km2 of its surface. The Floresta Da Tijuca is the largest urban forest in the world, making the city itself seem smaller. The area was destroyed by coffee plantations but was restored into a beautiful conservation area where some touristy areas can be found, like the Botanical Gardens, the Parquet Lage and the Corcovado.
Carioca, meaning “white man’s house” originates from the Tupi-Guarani used by the indigenous people who inhabited the land. When the Europeans invaded the land, the indigenous named the city they were building, Carioca or Kari’Oka. However, overtime the use of the word changed and it is now used to designate Rio’s locals.
- 2016 Summer Olympics
As you know, every four years, a city around the world is chosen to host the Summer Olympic games. In 2012, it was London, and last year, Rio welcomed 11 000 competing athletes. What you might not know is that Rio nearly didn’t make the cut. The decision was made back in 2009, where Rio was losing to Doha, who had to be opted out of the competition due to temperature issues and was only given a 6.4 grade by the IOC (International Olympic Committee). However, the city fought hard and came out on top of the competition.
- The world’s biggest football match
Although not the fondest memory Brazilians may have of their city, in 1950, Rio de Janeiro held the 1950 World Cup final in the Maracaña stadium. Built especially for the game, and titled the biggest stadium in the world at the time, Brazil and Uruguay fought for the Cup. Nearly 174K spectators watched as Brazil lost. The silence that followed and filled the stadium was soon given the nickname, Maracanazo.
- The Mythical King Momo
Each year during the Rio Carnival, the mayor of Rio hands over the keys to the city to King Momo to mark the beginning of the celebration. King Momo, also known as the King of Carnivals, is a mythical figure, who represents parties and freedom. Traditionally played by a chubby and joyful man, the mythical king dons a silly crown and colourful cape for the occasion. The exchange of the key tradition began in 1933 and remains the most symbolic moment of the carnival.
- Street Art
Street art is encouraged in Rio, it’s even legal. Artists are allowed to adorn columns and walls with their paintings as long as they have permission from owners and the sites are not designated historic buildings.
Rio de Janeiro, not only a perfect place for a relaxed vacation, but a beautiful city that has a lot more to it than meets the eye.
Image credits: 123rf.com