Rio de Janeiro is one of the worldâ€™s most famous cities. Established around 1560, it was initially the site of fierce battles between France and Portugal for control of the region. It benefited from the mineral boom in Minas Gerais, as all of the gold, silver and gems had to pass through Rio on their way to Europe. The city boomed, and became the colonial capital in 1763. In 1808, the king of Portugal and his court were forced to flee Napoleonâ€™s troops and established the capital of the Portuguese Empire in Rio. This arrangement lasted until 1821, when the court returned to Portugal.
Today, this city of almost six million inhabitants is one of the most picturesque in the world. The citiesâ€™ beaches are world-class: two well-known examples are Copacabana and Ipanema. The giant statue of Christ at Corcovado, his arms outstretched to bless the city, is Rioâ€™s most famous landmark and was declared one of the Sevn Wonders of the Modern World in 2007. A close second is Sugarloaf (PÃ£o de AÃ§Ãºcar), the green mountain that juts out of Guanabara bay. The cable car ride to the top of Sugarloaf is a must for visitors.
Rio, nicknamed cidade maravilhosa (marvelous city), also boasts dozens of museums, including some of the finest museums of precious stones in the world. The city is also dotted with scenic, well-maintained parks where locals like to stroll. Rioâ€™s nightlife is among the best in the world, with bars and clubs for everyone.Rio is best known for Carnival. Every year, 40 days before Easter, thousands of visitors from around the world flock to BrazilÂ´s Rio for four days of dancing, partying, people-watching and fun. If youâ€™re interested in going to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival, be sure to book your hotel rooms far in advance.