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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Oh, yes... the seductive rhythms, the sand and the surf, the tanned bodies. But but wait! There's so much more to this city that I find the beach fixation almost offensive. Let's start with the spectacular setting... just above the beaches there is a true wilderness that includes the world's largest urban forest. Then there is Rio's cultural and historical heritage. Way before going to the beach was considered a legitimate form of leisure, and when Capacabana and Ipanema were little more than fishing villages, Rio had already been a colonial capital, an imperial capital and a national capital. That means baroque churches, neoclassical palaces and belle-époque mansions aplenty. There are few places in the world where mid-century architecture (rationalism, functionalism, brutalism, art déco...) is so much in evidence. Rio is also a thriving port and a commercial and financial powerhouse, with the skyscrapers to prove it. There is also all the cultural and artistic life that a metropolis of six million people can create. Finally, there is Rio the Olympic City, of course. But that's just one more aspect of this amazing place.

Let's start our tour of the third-largest city in the Southern Hemisphere, with some places directly in the downtown area.

The Floriano Square is a great place to start, with the monumental ensamble of the City Council, National Library and Municipal theatre.

The Museum of Fina Arts, routinely hosting world-class exhibits.

The move of the federal government to Brasilia meant that many national institutions in grand buildings now house local and sate agencies. Several are now cultural centers and museums as well.

Here, the former Finance Ministry.

Another re purposed facility, the Federal Justice Cultural Center.

The downtown area is full of architectural contrasts, and the character of any block can be quite different from the ones next to it. Clearly there hasn't been a consistent policy of preservation and glass buildings tower above centuries-old structures. Anyone with any interest in architecture will love it.

The whole central area is full of beautiful colonial and early 20th-century architecture, from the pristine to the crumbling.

The Largo do Carioca square is one of many open spaces in the area. I loved its retro-futuristic atmosphere and the gritty, vaguely dystopian ambience.

Another square, the Praça Tiradentes is named after the instigator of the first attempt at independence from Portugal. The area is also where most of the traditional theatres are located.

The metropolitan Cathedral is a concrete 1960s concoction. You'll be impressed, even if you don't really like the style!

From the Cathedral, and linking it back to older parts of the central area, the Republic of Chile Street is a showcase of carioca corporate architecture, including the wonderful terraced Petrobrás building. The elevated walkways and overpasses are a good example of Brazilian functionalism.

The Confeitaria Colombo, a beautiful belle-époque restaurant, café and pastry shop, is always full of (other) tourists! :lol: Let's call it a day and have dinner here.

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