Believe it or not, Rio de Janeiro has a historic center better known as Centro. When we think about the Marvelous City, we don’t think about colonial times, belle époque or financial centers. Our minds associate Rio with beaches, sun, views and Corcovado.
But let me tell you that the city has a busy downtown. Many buildings testify about Rio’s past. Modern skyscrapers surround the old structures giving the city a contemporary twist.
And you know how I am. I was interested in seeing the different facets of the city. Therefore, the third day of my stay, I walked around the streets of the Centro trying to absorb the lesser known part of this famous city.
The day was cloudy and wet. That didn’t stop me from exploring. Well, let me admit I got fairly wet plus ended up buying the most expensive (and useless) umbrella of my life.
This post will give you an idea on what to see on the Centro. I know, I know. Another post about boring, colonial buildings. Sorry guys but you know I enjoy my history and decaying buildings a lot. I promise tomorrow I will post about the crazy things I learned about Brazilians while strolling thru the Centro.
A walk around the Centro can be started around the Carioca or Cinelandia metro stations. This area is packed with things to see. You can start by visiting the Igreja (Church) da Ordem Terceira de Sao Francisco da Penitencia for an exquisite Baroque banquet. The Metropolitan Cathedral is nearby (see it in my previous post).
The Lapa neighborhood is close to the Metropolitan Cathedral. In there, you can visit de famous Arcos da Lapa and the Escadario Selaron (Selaron Stairs).
Close to the Carioca station, you can move on to admire the Municipal Theater. This is without doubt one of the most beautiful buildings in downtown.
The National Library and the National Fine Arts Museum are located in the plaza across the theater
A short walk will take you to Praca XV do Novembro. This is considered the center of Rio de Janeiro. Many important buildings are found around the plaza. For example,
- The original Imperial Palace (Paco Imperial)
- Tiradentes Palace
- Igreja Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Antigua Se
- Igreja Sao Jose
- Arco do Telles
- Municipal Market
Another interesting church can be found on Praca Pio X (Igreja Nossa Senhora de Candelaria).
Many museums, cafes (for example, Confeitaria Colombo) and boutiques are within the area. Make sure you get a good map indicating all the “in” places to visit.
I have mentioned the most notable sights in the Centro. Nonetheless, I believe the best way to experience the soul of this part of the city is by walking while absorbing all the colors, noises and smells.
I even walked into some unknown area and ended up discovering an Anglican Church and a red palace (well I don’t know what it is).
Oh, and pay attention to the details. Because places like this are full of charming details like signs, statues, lamp posts, columns, windows, doors and the occasional golden eagle over a building. Yes, this is what makes a place special.
Rio de Janeiro’s Centro surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to find this part of the city. In some way, I understand now why the city became so important and famous. That my friends, is something I discovered while walking the streets of the oldest part of town.
Have you visited Rio de Janeiro’s Centro? Let me know in the comments section below.