Category Archives: Architecture

Amazing footage of Rio in the 30s, the 40s, the 50s…

Carnaval de rua


You may question the narration and its predictable cliches and prejudices, but these historic footages are true gems. Tough to choose a favorite (ok, if you insist, the 1932’s and the 1955’s are the best).

1932 – Includes a pretty disgusting scene where the narrator mentions the “infinite variety of tropical animals” found downtown, while the camera closes on a cute little Black girl. Also to be noted the comment that carioca’s resent the monopoly of the word Americans by those born in the States. Pay attention also on the explanation about the “butterfly industries” and the ornamental black and white stone pavements.

Continue reading Amazing footage of Rio in the 30s, the 40s, the 50s…

Rio in old postcards

Aqueduto da Carioca, 1911
Caminho aéreo do Pão de Açúcar, 1916
Praça XV, 1924
Avenida Rio Branco, 1913
Avenida Rio Branco, 1913

And this is a series of postcards collected by Baptist missionary Edward (Guy) McLain, probably during the 30s and 40s. They were shared with us by his colleague, Andrew Comings, from the Comings Communiqué blog.Thank you so much, Andrew, they are wonderful.

Vista aérea do Botafogo
Canto do Rio
Vista da cidade e do Corcovado

And finally, a “recent” one, taken in the most beautiful year of last century (from my own, unbiased point of view):

Pão de Açúcar, 1966

Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) in 1966Check also the other old Brazilian postcards (Belém, Porto Alegre and Curitiba) and Rio one century ago, by Marc Ferrez

Sources: Old Postcards from Brazil and Comings Communiqué.

Coretos, Brazilian bandstands

Olinda, in Pernambuco state. Photo by Prefeitura de Olinda/ Flickr

Almost all Brazilian cities were constructed around a central square which generally includes the main church or cathedral, gardens, cement benches, a fountain and, in many cases, also the city hall and a prison. Frequently, there is also a bandstand that may host musical shows or political speeches. Check some of these cool examples of bandstands – coretos in Portuguese – and feel the nostalgia.

Olinda once again. Another promotional photo by Prefeitura de Olinda/Flickr


Praça do Ferreira, in Fortaleza, capital of the state of Ceará, in the twenties. Photo from Wikipedia


Praça Batista Campos, in Belém, capital of the state of Pará. Photo by Papy Leite/ Flickr


This and the following photo were taken at Praça da Polícia (Police Square) in Manaus, capital of Amazonas state. Photo by ACMoraes/ Flickr

Photo taken in Rio by Thiago Melo


Avaré, state of São Paulo. Photo by José Reynaldo da Fonseca/ Wikipedia

You can check for some other examples here.


Communist Niemeyer’s churches

Brasília's Cathedral. Photo by Eduardo Deboni/ Flickr
Brasília’s Cathedral. Photo by Eduardo Deboni/ Flickr

Centenarian Oscar Niemeyer, the internationally acclaimed architect, just published a book with photos of the 16 gorgeous churches and chapels he conceived. A historic communist – who designed the headquarters of the French Communist Party and never rejected his Stalinist views -, he explained this way his many religious projects (on daily paper Folha de S. Paulo):

I felt that I should explain it, because I am a communist and have been working on so many churches. But I was born in a very religious family. My grandfather was religious. The house where I used to live had five windows and one of them was converted into an oratory by my grandmother. We had masses at home. All this is very natural. Continue reading Communist Niemeyer’s churches

The dreamy, sexy sculptures of Brennand

Photo by Valdiney Pimenta/ Flickr

Ceramist Francisco Brennand is probably the greatest Brazilian sculptor in activity. Inspired by the works of Pablo Picasso, Joán Miró and Fernand Léger, that he met during his studies in Paris, he developed a style that mixes surrealism and anatomy, fertility goddesses and tribal totems.

The best place to see his production is his personal museum, Oficina Brennand, in Recife. It is installed in the old ceramic tile factory built by his father in 1917 and displays not only thousand of pieces of his art but also a garden conceived by great landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx. The New York Times just wrote about it.

Photo by Graham Stanley/ Flickr

Continue reading The dreamy, sexy sculptures of Brennand

Rio one century ago, by Marc Ferrez

largo sao francisco de paula
1895 – Largo São Francisco de Paula

The photos made by Marc Ferrez during the last years of the Empire and the beginning of the Republic regime are the best register of life in Rio between the mid 1860s and the late 1910s. He left more than 5,000 images, most of them portraying the city, then the Brazilian capital.

Arcos da Lapa
Arcos da Lapa
1905. Canal do Mangue (Mangrove Canal)
1905. Canal do Mangue (Mangrove Canal)
1910. The neoclassic buildings of Avenida Central (today called Avenida Rio Branco)
1910. The neoclassic buildings of Avenida Central (today called Avenida Rio Branco)
Ordem Terceira do Carmo
Ordem Terceira do Carmo
1890. Guanabara bay seen from Niterói.
1890. Largo do Paço and Primeiro de Março street



1885. From the Corcovado mountain, where today is the statue of Christ the Redeemer, Ferrez made this panoramic that shows the Botafogo bay and Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf mountain)

Sources: Starnews2001 and Flickr


9 favelas of Rio shown by their residents

Photo by bekbek75/ Flickr
Photo by bekbek75/ Flickr

Nowhere in Rio you get a better view of the coast and the gorgeous geography than from the top of the favelas. These shantytowns have been included in city tours for a while, in part because of their strategical location,in  part because of their music tradition, or because of their mystique. The favela reality is frequently misunderstood both by those who dream of this mystique and those who equal these environment to a drug-infested mob-headquarter. Neither is accurate, of course.

This wonderful series of videos can offer a vision closer to reality. They interview and follow residents of 9 favelas cariocas while they show their houses, the little bars and soccer fields, the landscape and daily lives.

Enjoy the tour:

1 – Santa Marta – this video, produced by Pedro Serra, with subtitles in English, introduces the favela where Michael Jackson made the 1996 “They Don’t Care About Us” video clip.

Continue reading 9 favelas of Rio shown by their residents