The bohemian vibe of Santa Teresa offers an alternative hangout to the body-conscious shores in the south zone of the city. Until the 1880s, it was largely a remote hillside region of sprawling farms and dense forest where runaway slaves sought refuge. Then along came the coffee industry boom, bringing with it wealthy merchants who constructed beautiful and imposing mansions there to live in. It was the construction of the bonde – the famous Santa Teresa tram – that finally connected the neighbourhood to the rest of the city. Nowadays, the region is known as a creative hangout, filled with art studios and a laid-back, slow-paced feel.
WHY WE LOVE Santa tERESA?
The laid-back spirit of Santa Teresa is contagious and the easy pace of life is thick in the air, forcing you to slow down and take everything in. The cobbled streets wind through the neighbourhood, leading visitors to unexpected art studios and charming, friendly bars. Go there to get sucked into that unshakeable bohemian vibe and see a part of Rio quite unlike any other neighbourhood in the city.
Two must-see attractions in Santa Teresa are the Museu Chacara do Ceu and Parque das Ruinas. The Museu Chacara do Ceu is the former mansion of the late Raymundo Ottoni de Castro Maya, an industrialist and art patron. In addition to Ottoni’s private art collection, the art museum also houses the works of significant artists such as Portinari and Di Cavalcanti, and also regularly runs temporary exhibitions. Parque das Ruinas is a cultural centre built inside the remains of a late mansion, yet the best reason to go is for the breathtaking views at the top that overlook Guanabara Bay.
The famous yellow bonde continues to jostle along the old aqueduct (today known as Lapa Arches) and trawls up the steep hillside of Santa Teresa. The streetcar has become an iconic image of the neighbourhood, its slow pace and old-fashioned look adding to its charm. The price going up for tourists is R$20 but the ride down from Santa Teresa is FREE. Go by bus (from Lapa – Gomes Freire Street – bus 006 or 007) or taxi/uber and take the tram to come back!
Hours: Mon – Friday: 6h30 to 16h15 Saturday: 10h to 18h
Although Mercado das Pulgas translates to, simply, ‘flea market,’ Mercado das Pulgas is not what it seems. Mercado das Pulgas is actually a samba celebration that happens every first and third Saturday of the month from 8pm to midnight. Entry to the party is only 10 Brazilian Reais. Visitors get to join locals and enjoy the national genre of Samba complete with local drummers, whilst sipping on Caiprinhas, Brazil’s national drink, in the balmy Rio nights.
The nightlife in Santa Teresa may be low-key and casual, but it is far from unexciting, with a solid collection of accomplished restaurants and lively bars. Head to Sobrenatural for a varied and skillfully made menu of seafood, or to Bar Mineiro that is famous for serving the quasi-official best feijoada in Rio. The Explorer Bar is a newcomer to the area and has quickly established itself with its dangerously smooth cocktails and flavoursome snacks. Armazém São Thiago is one of Santa Teresa’s most traditional bars with framed photos and newspaper clippings jostling for space next to shelves of bottles adding to the authentic feel.
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