Flavors of Brazil saluted the city of São Paulo on its 458th birthday. Today it's Rio de Janeiro, Brazils second-largest city and most famous tourist destination, whose birthday is being celebrating. March 1st is Rio's birthday, as it was on this day in 1565 that the city was officially founded by Portuguese colonists who named their new city São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. Fortunately that unwieldly name has since been reduced to Rio de Janeiro, meaning River of January.
Rio's beautiful natural setting, tucked into bays and beaches around Guanabara Bay at the foot of spectacular mountains, has been exalted since the first day Portuguese caravels sailed into the bay - on January 1, 1502. Not realizing that the large expanse of water they were entering was a bay rather than the mouth of a large river, they named the bay Rio de Janeiro in honor of the New Year's Day they were celebrating. The name stuck long after the Portuguese realized their geographical mistake.
In many ways, Rio de Janeiro is Brazil's face to the rest of the world. The imposing statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) atop Corcovado mountain and the shockingly-steep granite dome of Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar) are among the most iconic tourist images in the world, and few world travelers haven't heard praise of the glories of Rio's major beaches, Copacabana and Ipanema.
So if you're feeling like offering a birthday toast to Rio de Janeiro, fix yourself a refreshing caipirinha, and toast a Cidade Maravilhosa (The Wonderful City) while watching this spectacular tilt-shift video called The City of Samba. It captures the city and one of its principal cultural manifestations, Carnaval, perfectly.
The City of Samba from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.
Feliz Aniversário, Rio de Janeiro