Friday 21 July 2017

An Excursion To South America: 4. Rio's Tourist Hot Spots

Other than Rio's glamorous mountains and sexy beaches, we visited a few other tourist hot spots to complete our city tour around Rio.

1.Selarón Steps (Escadaria Selarón)
Escadaria Selaron or Selaron Steps is a very colorful stairway that connects Joaquim Silva Street and Pinto Martins Street in Lapa District with Santa Teresa Neighborhood. This stairway which comprises 215 steps is actually a street. Officially named Manuel Carneiro Street but better known as Selaron Steps, this attractive stairway is the brainchild of a Chilean-born artist, Jorge Selaron.
The place where Selaron Steps are located is part of a slum area in Rio, resided by a low-income urban populace. On either side of the stairway are residential premises one of which was home to Jorge Selaron. A portrait of the artist can be seen on the wall of his once-upon a-time rented house (picture above). There is an interesting history behind his artful masterpiece.
It all started when Selaron endeavored to repair some dilapidated steps running in front of his house but what started as a manual task became a passion and later a mission which Selaron undertook to transform an otherwise dull stairway into one that gained international attention.
Despite his lack of fund, he persistently worked on. Section by section and years later, with money he obtained by selling his paintings and also from contribution by the public, he got the entire stairway covered with vibrant tiles, ceramics and mirrors. This favela ultimately became a tourist hot spot.
A mysterious image that pops up in all of Selaron’s work including this stairway is that of a pregnant woman who must have been affiliated to him in his earlier life.
This artful work was meant to be an ongoing one as tiles were swapped at the whim of Selaron.  Unfortunately the artist was found dead in 2013 on the the very stairways that he created. It was possibly a suicidal death but one that remains a mystery till this day.

2.The Murals Along Teotonio Regadas Street
Teotonio Regadas Street is a narrow street that we walked through to get to Selaron Steps. We have not purposefully come to visit this street but I thought it is worth mentioning as the murals on the walls are simply captivating.
Anyway visitors to the famous Escadaria Selarón can kill two birds with one stone as this street is just next to the famous Selaron Steps.

3.The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian is one of the most unique cathedral I have ever seen. Built over a period of more than thirty years from 1964 to 1979, this cathedral which takes the shape of a cone without its pointed end is a functional place of worship and is big enough to house 20,000 standing worshipers or 5000 sitting down. Its architecture is inspired by a Maya pyramid on the island of Yucatan in Mexico. The exterior and interior facades both look like a honeycomb.
The bell tower that stands adjacent to it is also conic in shape.
Inside the cathedral are four panels of stained glass windows with different vivid colour tones, each soaring from the floor to the ceiling.

Right at the centre of the hall a wooden statue of Jesus on a cross is hung from the ceiling.
There are four entrances into the cathedral.

4. Macarana Stadium
Officially known as  Estádio Mário Filho but preferably called Macarana, this stadium is meant to be the largest soccer stadium in the world. It was here that the final match of 1950 World Cup was held. It was a historic match between Brazil and Uruguay then and one where the hopefuls thought would end in the first football victory for Brazil. The disappointment must have been so great when Uruguay snatched the trophy that the stadium became known as Maracanãzo, which roughly translated means 'the Maracanã blow'.
The stadium was renovated to host 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics after which spates of vandalism and thievery left it in a state of despair. 
Today tourists like us visit it for the glamour that it once was. We were dropped at the main entrance for a quick photo shot of the statue of Bellini. 

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4. Rio's Top Tourist Hot Spots
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7. From Rio To Iguazu Falls
8. The Argentinian Side Of Iguazu Falls
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10. Loi Suite Iguazu, A Hotel In A Jungle
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12. Getting To know Lima, Peru. Part II
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16. Cuzco Historical Sites
17. Traversing Sacred Valley
18. The Journey To Machu Picchu
19. Machu Picchu, Peru
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21. Adios Peru, Hola Buenos Aires
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24. A Boat Tour Of Parana Delta, Tigre
25. El Calafate, Argentina
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