The area known as Santa Teresa is perched upon a hilltop resplendent
with surrounding city of Rio de Janeiro and the bay of Guanabara.
Santa Teresa is a hub of both history and culture in Rio de Janeiro.
With winding narrow streets, colonial Portuegese architecture and
renouned restuarants, Santa Teresa offers an array of experiences
to it’s visitors. A favorite location for artists and writers,
who seduced by the cultural treasures, give the district a vibrant
artistic subculture including many studios and art dealers that
call Santa Teresa home. Santa, as it is lovingly referred to by
residents and frequent visitors, is an excellent piece of Brasil’s
history but to many tourists seems to be a world unto itself.
Seemingly unafflicted by time, Santa Teresa has guarded Old Rio
culture and history for decades. Named for Igreja e Convento de
Santa Teresa or Santa Teresa Church and convent, the district was
settled just outside the convent which houses the Ordem das Carmelitas
Descalcas (the order of the Barefoot Carmelite Nuns). These nuns,
who aspire to a simple and discreet life, live in almost total isolation
and are rarely seen outside of their convent.
The district also houses the last remaining street tramcars in
Brazil. Dating back to1896, when the trams first began running over
the Arcos da Lapa to Santa Teresa, the cars are preserved as a part
of the district’s cultural heritage. The trams, which are
still in perfect operating condition begin their route in downtown,
crossing the Lapa Arches and continue on through Santa Teresa. The
fare is under a dollar and there are two lines that run on 15 minute
intervals. The guided tram rides have two seperate tours on Saturdays.
The first, Passeio Historico follows a cultural route and runs approximately
one hour. The second runs approximately two hours, the Ecologico,
and includes a trip through the forest as well.
The tram makes a stop at Largo dos Guimaraes e Largo das Neves
or Guimaraes and Neves Squares in the heart of the district. This
cultural area is representative of the particular bohemian lifestyle
of Santa Teresa. In Guimaraes Square there are a wide range of bars
and restaurants frequented by the artists and intellectuals of the
city. Neves Square is surrounded by beautiful houses that date back
to the 1850’s. Neves Square is also host to several of Santa
Teresa’s most popular bars.
Also, along the tram’s track is the Laurinda Santos Lobo
Cultural Center. The center, named for a Laurinda Santos Lobo, one
of the most respected intellectuals of the area, is a gorgeous house
that hosts a photographic collection of Laurinda and her many parties
and events. The center also has video rooms and exhibition space.
There are so many museums and architectural displays worth exploring
in the area, one could easily spend weeks visiting them all. This
district of Rio De Janeiro is easily one of Brasil’s most
artistic and historical cultural centers.
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