The first image that comes to mind when thinking about tourism in Rio de Janeiro are the (beautiful) beaches of the South Zone (Ipanema, Copacabana, Leblon…) and emblematic places such as Christ the Redeemer, the Sugar Loaf and the Arcos da Lapa. But there is another region of the capital of Rio de Janeiro that offers very interesting attractions and good options for gastronomy, bars, entertainment and shopping: the West Zone, with emphasis on Barra da Tijuca (Tijuca´s Bar).
After walking along the fantastic avenue Niemeyer and admiring, on the left, the fabulous view of the sea, you arrive at Barra da Tijuca, a more recent occupation area, which had a rapid real estate development, with large residential condominiums and shopping malls.
Barra da Tijuca is an irresistible invitation for those who have already delighted with the charming South Zone (Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and surroundings), the multicultural Lapa, the refined neighborhood of Santa Tereza, the blocks of samba schools and the tasty Feira de São Cristóvão – not to mention Corcovado and Pão de Açúcar.
When tourists think they will have to repeat tours in Rio, here is Barra. For a long time an inhospitable region, the place today represents the most modern facet of the Marvelous City: an extensive beach of Caribbean blue water, imposing buildings with generous balconies, shopping malls, trendy restaurants and bars and residents who behave as global players (some they really are, after all, Projac is right there…).
Until the 1970s, the region of just over 160 km² in length and a coastal coast of 27km was occupied basically by native forest, caiçaras and some sites. Barra’s great turnaround began with the execution of the Pilot Plan designed by Lúcio Costa (the same one that designed Brasília, in partnership with Oscar Niemeyer), foreseeing the orderly occupation of the region.
The opening of an important road, the Lagoa-Barra Highway, facilitated the occupation of the area, which began to receive high-end developments, betting on the comfort-privacy-security trinomial to attract residents to the hitherto almost deserted and against the hand Barra (if today it takes half an hour to reach the South Zone, imagine it beforehand!). The names of the first closed condominiums already anticipated the purpose of Barra: Novo Leblon and Nova Ipanema.
In a short time, the area was occupied by high standard buildings and differentiated people. But, for visitors, Barra has a lot to offer, from exuberant nature reserves and sophisticated consumption centers, to great options for lodging, gastronomy and entertainment.
Roberto Burle Marx’s landscape projects are recognized not only for their beauty, but also for giving very Brazilian characteristics to the environments. His proposal was to break with European influences (mainly from English and French), who conceived geometric designs, and instead use organic and irregular shapes, resorting exclusively to tropical plant species. This option for local values led him to be considered the “landscape modernist” – an allusion to the artistic movement launched in 1922 by Mário and Oswald de Andrade, Tarsila do Amaral and Manuel Bandeira, among others, who defended the use of Brazilian values in artistic manifestations.
For decades, Burle Marx used a vast site in Barra de Guaratiba as a huge open-air laboratory. There, it brought together thousands of species of tropical plants, from various parts of the world (Brazil, Madagascar, New Guinea, New Zealand, India, Florida). The landscaper lived on the farm from 1973 until he died, in 1994. Today open to visitors, the Sítio Burle Marx houses, in an area of 365 thousand m², 3.5 thousand species of tropical plants and also sculptures, the Vale’s handicraft collection do Jequitinhonha, paintings, drawings and murals made by Marx himself. Visits, which last 2 hours and are monitored, need to be scheduled by calling (21) 2410-1412.
Site Burle Marx- Estrada da Barra de Guaratiba, 2019.
A kind of Ibirapuera Park in Barra da Tijuca, Bosque da Barra (Barra´s Grove) is a popular place for people looking to exercise (running, cycling or just walking) and also for whole families, especially on weekends. Called Arruda Câmara Park, the place is 500 thousand square meters and has a lake, beautiful boulevards, where you can see wild animals, and an area with a playground. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 7 am to 5 .
Bosque da Barra – Avenida das Américas, 6,000 – Telephone (21) 3151-3428
Pedro II really was a man ahead of his time. When concepts like ecology and environmental preservation didn’t even exist, he determined the reforestation of a large area, right in the middle of the city of Rio de Janeiro. It was a way to compensate for the deforestation caused by coffee farms and to prevent the rivers that supplied the city from drying out. In 13 years, starting in 1861, 100,000 tree seedlings were planted, the vast majority of which are native to the Atlantic Forest. The result is seen today: with its 39.5 km² (the size of the island part of the city of Santos), the Tijuca Forest is the largest urban forest in the world. A perfect place to walk and cycle through its trails and boulevards, meet wild animals and waterfalls, and have privileged views of Rio de Janeiro, at points like Mirador Excelsior, Vista Chinesa, and Mesa do Imperador.
Tijuca Forest – Estrada da Cascatinha, 850 – Alto da Boa Vista – Tel (21) 2492-2252 / 2492-2253.
French designer Jacques Van Beuque was passionate about Brazilian crafts. In his travels around Brazil, he collected sculptures produced by local artists, which portrayed the way of life in each place. The result of this passion is a collection of about 5,000 works, made by 200 artists, from 24 states, which today are gathered at the Casa do Pontal Museum. In the pieces, several professionals in action (the dentist, the seamstress, the flour maker), everyday scenes (children in the classroom, women breastfeeding), weddings, fairs, musicians and popular parties and the circus, among
They are works by artists such as Mestre Amaro Vitalino, Zé Caboclo, Ulisses Chaves, Antonio Rodrigues and Noemisa Batista.
Located in an ecological reserve in the Recreio neighborhood, the Museum is recognized by Unesco, awarded by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN) and has already received distinguished visitors such as José Saramago.
Casa do Pontal Museum – Estrada do Pontal, 3295- Tel (21) 2490-3278 / 2490-4013.
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