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City Centre and Other Attractions

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City Centre

Although the city centre is the now a modern financial district, it is also the oldest part of the city and has many interesting historical sites and museums. There is a market every Thursday and Friday in the Praça XV de Novembro. Another place of interest is the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Antiga Se, the city’s oldest cathedral. The striking modern cathedral, opened in 1976, is also worth visiting.

Maracana Stadium

Located in the north of Rio, the Maracana is one of the world’s largest football stadiums. 200,000 people saw the 1950 World Cup final here, when Uruguay beat Brazil. The 2014 World Cup final was also held here, although the all-seated capacity was 90,000.

Santa Teresa

One of the most charming areas of the city, Santa Teresa offers a glimpse into what Rio was like before it became a modern city, with many 19th century buildings still remaining. This area of the city is situated on a hill not far from the city centre, and there are many handicrafts and arts in this area, as well as good restaurants and bars. The area is accessible by tram.

Tijuca National Park

The hills of Rio were initially covered in lush tropical forest, but most of this was chopped down in the 17th century. When it was realised that this was causing severe problems for Rio’s water supply, as well as creating landslides, a reforestation project was begun, and over 100,000 trees were planted in the second half of the 19th century. Today, 120 square kilometres of replanted forest are a national park which is home to much wildlife and birdlife.

Ilha de Paqueta

It is possible to visit the Ilha de Paqueta, in the Guanabara Bay, from Rio. There are several beaches, although there is pollution in the sea. There are no cars on the island, and bicycles can be hired. The island is about 1 hour by boat from Rio, or considerably less by hydrofoil, and is very popular at weekends.