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Archive for brazil

Made From Scratch

By Linda Tancs

Brazil’s third most populous city, Brasília was built from scratch (an empty plateau in the heartland) in the 20th century, intended to replace Rio as the nation’s capital. It’s perhaps best known for its futuristic buildings such as the National Congress, the crown-like, hyperboloid structure of the cathedral and the presidential palace. Take in the bird’s-eye view from the TV tower, the highest point in the city.

Reading in Rio

By Linda Tancs

If you were bored with libraries as a kid, then Brazil’s Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading will surely reinvigorate your interest. Recognized as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, its limestone exterior is no match for the ornately decorated interior that boasts the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside Portugal. Although construction didn’t begin until the late 1800s, the library was founded in 1837 by a group of 43 Portuguese immigrants who wanted to promote their culture in Brazil. Hardly a tourist trap, this cultural and architectural gem is conveniently located in Rio de Janeiro’s city center.

The Gem Capital of Brazil

By Linda Tancs

It’s easy to understand why tourism is becoming a major industry in Brazil.  Consider the charm of Carnaval, the glam of Rio de Janeiro and the majesty of the Amazon.  But gem hunters have a different reason to sing the country’s praises:  Téofilo Otoni, a city in northeast Minas Gerais state where minerals reign (or, some might say, rain) supreme.  Its trade in precious stones (particularly aquamarine) renders the city the gem capital of Brazil.  In fact, an International Gemstones and Minerals Fair is held there every year.

The Island of Magic

By Linda Tancs

Recently named in a travel magazine survey as the world’s friendliest city, it isn’t hard to see why the stretch of beaches comprising Brazil’s Florianópolis earns it the nickname, the island of magic.  About 450 miles southwest of Rio de Janeiro, this beachy destination easily gives glam spots like Ibiza or Punta del Este a run for their money.  Originally renowned for its surfing holes like Joaquina, Praia Mole and Praia Brava, its cosmopolitan flair can’t be missed on Jurerê Internacional, Canasvieiras, and Ingleses on the north end of the island, where domestic and international tourists mix and mingle in trendy beach bars and nightclubs.  For a little more peace and tranquility, witness the traditional Azorean customs still practiced on the island’s south end or visit the city centre for ample remnants of its colonial past.  Whatever you do, prepare to be spellbound.

South America’s Big Island

By Linda Tancs

Ilha Grande (translated, the “Big Island”) is a tropical paradise in Angra dos Reis, a Brazilian municipality located in the southern part of Rio de Janeiro state.   Its largely undeveloped and rugged landscape attracts Brazilians across the nation seeking a quiet haven.  Considered by some to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Lopes Mendes Beach shares its sparkling waters with surfers and monkeys alike.  The largest village, Vila do Abraão, is an intimate cove with striking views of its mountainous peaks from the cozy port.  The ferries and launches from Angra all dock there.  That’s about all the transportation you’ll encounter; the island is free of motorized vehicles.

Brazil’s Polynesia

By Linda Tancs

Ilhabela means “beautiful island” in Portuguese. Discovered in 1502 by Américo Vespucio, this archipelago and city situated four miles off the coast of São Paulo state in Brazil is unique for its pristine beaches and untouched rainforest.  It also reputedly has the best shrimp in the country.  Best of all, with an average annual temperature in the 70s (fahrenheit), it’s the perfect vacation destination year-round.  To get there from São Paulo, it’s approximately three hours by car to São Sebastião and then a 15-20 minute ferry ride to Barra Velha on the island.

The Artist Behind Brazilian Architecture

By Linda Tancs

Today is the 104th birthday of Oscar Niemeyer, a Brazilian architect specializing in international modern architecture.   His whimsical creations include the concrete hyperboloid Cathedral of Brasilia and the UFO-like Museo de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói across the bay from Rio.  You could plan a tour of Brazil solely around his works alone as this list of Niemeyer buildings will attest.

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