Taking the name from the Portuguese word for Flemish, Flamengo was named after the Dutch sailor Olivier van Noort who attempted to invade Rio through Flamengo in 1599. At that time, the Dutch invaders were known as Flemish by the Portuguese settlers. Flamengo’s park, with gardens designed by renowned Brazilian landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx, borders Guanabara Bay to create a picturesque scene. Founded in the 17th century, Laranjeiras is one of Rio’s oldest neighbourhoods and features iconic landmarks such as Palácio Guanabara, Palácio Laranjeiras, and the headquarters of local football team, Fluminense. Nestled into the border of Laranjeiras is Cosme Velho, the meeting point to take the train up to the dizzy heights of Corcovado mountain to see the monumental Christ the Redeemer. Book lovers will appreciate Cosme Velho for being the home of the late Machado de Assis, one of Brazil’s best literary icons.
WHY WE LOVE FLAMENGO, LARANJEIRAS AND COSME VELHO?
These three neighbourhoods have their own, quiet charm that lets you stop, think and enjoy the surroundings at a much leisurely pace than the regions further south of the city. That’s not to say they are sleepy – each area has a handful of animated bars and restaurants for those in the know. They tend to be frequented by locals, yet welcome the visitors who stumble upon them with welcome arms. Flamengo Park is the ultimate chill out area with its seafront location and jaw-dropping views of the Sugarloaf.
Nestled into Cosme Velho is Largo do Boticário, an abandoned square edged by six houses of neo-classical architecture. The vibrant colours of the buildings’ worn-out façades contrast with the vegetation creeping in from the Atlantic forest and create a striking image. The complex history surrounding the square leaves visitors full of intrigue.
Head to Cosme Velho to take the old cog-train up to the summit of Corcovado mountain to see Brazil’s most famous landmarks, the Christ the Redeemer. The train plods up the steep hill, passing through the Tijuca forest on its way before reaching the open-armed statue that overlooks the city.
Every weekend, people gather at Praça São Salvador to enjoy the live samba, improvised acrobatic acts, and people-watching at the small yet popular square in Laranjeiras. The vibrant cultural scene attracts an exciting mix of people who stand and chat whilst sipping cold beers in Rio’s balmy, humid nights.
Known as one of Rio’s most important art museums, the Museum of Modern Arts (MAM) is located in Flamengo Park, and despite a devastating fire in 1978 that destroyed approximately 90% of the artworks, it has blossomed once again with a solid collection of national and international artists. The museum grounds, designed by the late Roberto Burle Marx, are sometimes transformed into a space for cultural events with live music, food trucks, and temporary bars.
As one of the most iconic images of Brazil, the Christ the Redeemer is on almost everyone's bucket-list when they come to visit Rio de Janeiro. The statue is an imposing monumental in its own right, yet the real joy of going there lies in the panoramic views...