Ask a Brazilian for a brief rundown on Creation, and the answer will be unanimous: ‘God made the world in six days; the seventh, he devoted to Rio.’ Flying into the city, over its towering granite peaks, golden beaches and blue oceans, it’s easy to see where this reverent pride comes from. But it’s not until you’ve touched down and immersed yourself in Rio de Janeiro that you’ll understand just how much there is to get excited about in the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City).
Rio has an almost unsettling ability to surprise you around every corner, making it the perfect destination for jaded travellers who feel they’ve seen it all. Open up what looks like a small papaya, and you’ll find it’s a passion fruit instead. Head off to the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, and rather than finding a domed basilica you’ll be treated to a conical giant more reminiscent of an Inca pyramid.
The city has a distinctive scent – a mixture of granadilla, garlic and other unidentifiable aromas that seem to seep from the streets themselves. It’s hard to pick one thing that defines Rio. It is shaped by contrast and, even from afar, the populous city is half urban sprawl, half mountainous jungle. It’s this embrace of nature, which is lasciviously big and bold, that is one of Rio’s most alluring attributes.
This gallery offers a glimpse into the most stunning settings in the 2016 Olympic city, sure to have the most intrepid of travellers feverishly packing their bags.
Read up on the architecture and design highlights in the 2016 Olympic city in our August 2016 issue