Rio’s Santa Teresa district

Santa Teresa Rio de Janeiro Brasil

Santa Teresa and its distinctive style

Rio de Janeiro has long been associated with its magnificent beaches. Copacabana and Ipanema made Rio famous in the 20th century for their golden sands and the lush mountains that framed them. Yet a no less captivating backdrop lies just above downtown Rio in the Santa Teresa hill district, where aging 19th-century mansions and a bohemian spirit offer a very different take on the cidade maravilhosa.
Santa Teresa Rio de Janeiro Brasil

Flickr – TheDarlomme

Santa Teresa remained largely inaccessible until the 1800s, when new roads linked it to Glória and other neighboring districts. Until the 1880s, it was an area of isolated farms and forests that provided refuge for runaway slaves.

Then, at the end of the 19th century, the explosive growth of the coffee industry fuelled a building boom across Rio, with wealthy industrialists erecting huge mansions in Santa Teresa. The district took off in 1896, when the aqueduct that brought water to the city center was transformed to accommodate Rio’s new electric tramway, the Bonde.
Santa Teresa Rio de Janeiro Brasil

Flickr – Rogerio Zgiet

Today, the picturesque yellow streetcar, the last streetcar still in operation in Rio, continues its journey over the old aqueduct (now called the Arches de Lapa) and winds its way through the cobbled streets of Santa Teresa.
Santa Teresa Rio de Janeiro Brasil

Flickr – SergioAraujoPereira

Today, artists’ studios can be found, bearing witness to the way they settled in the area in the 1960s and 70s. Houses that were once abandoned have been refurbished, and it’s a treat to stroll through Santa Teresa and admire thestreet art, the lively passers-by, and the fine dining scene in small restaurants with superb views over the city.

Don’t miss the Museu Chacara do Ceu, with paintings by Brazilian artists such as Di Cavalcanti and canvases by Matisse and Miró, and its garden. Also worth a visit is Parque das Ruinas, with its ruins and Café. When it comes to entertainment, take a look at Largo do Guimarães, the square at the heart of the bohemian district.
Santa Teresa Rio de Janeiro Brasil

Flickr – Marco Nunes

One way to get to Santa Teresa on foot is to climb the steps of theEscadaria Selarón, a veritable open-air work of art.

Santa Teresa Rio de Janeiro Brasil

Flickr – dany13

Life in this neighborhood is really pleasant, and we suggest renting an apartment here if you’re staying a few days in Rio de Janeiro.

Map of the Santa Teresa district

Also read: 8 things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Map of hotels and accommodation – Rio de Janeiro,br