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The view from the Zona SuI (South Zone) neighborhood of São Conrado is stunning: the rocks of Pedra da Gávea and Pedra Bonita, the hill Morro Dois Irmãos, and Praia de São Conrado (São Conrado Beach) lie just ahead on the horizon.

São Conrado’s signature upper-class condiminums border the neighborhoods of Leblon, Gavea, Barra da Tijuca, and the favela da Rocinha.

Beyond its prime residential space, São Conrado offers some irresistible tourist attractions, from surfing to hang- and paragliding (touch down on beautiful Praia do Pepino beach!) to upscale shopping.

Here you’ll find one of the city’s most vibrant and important retail centers. To reach São Conrado from the Zona SuI (South Zone), take Avenida Niemeyer or Auto-Estrada Lagoa-Barra. Alternatively, the scenic Estrada do Joá boasts a spectacular view of Morro da Joatinga hill.

From here, you’re a short distance from the neighborhood of Joatinga and Clube Costa Brava, a club perched spectacularly atop a small, rocky peninsula. Túnel São Conrado tunnel connects São Conrado with Joá, in the Zona Oeste (West Zone).

Túnel Zuzu Angel (formerly Tunel Dois Irmãos) links to Gávea.

Map of Rio de Janeiro City

Map of São Conrado RJ

Map of São Conrado RJ

1 PRAlA DE SÃO CONRADO

Officially named Praia da Gávea, São Conrado Beach is nearly two miles long, stretching from the end of Avenida Niemeyer to Túnel São Conrado.

Hang-gliders and paragliders who lift off from Pedra Bonita land at the beach’s far south end, known as Praia do Pepino. Nearby residents and surfers frequent the beach for its good waves.

2 HANG-GLIDING AND PARAGLIDING

Hang-gliding and paragliding lessons are popular ac tiviti es in São Conrado. A long take-off ramp at Pedra Bonita lends hang-gliders what some may call sa fer conditions.

We strongly recommend you hire instructors acc redited by the Associaҫão de Voo Livre do Rio de Janeiro (AVLRJ), whose headquarters on Praia do Pepino are located on Estrada das Canoas, a narrow road leading to the take-off ramp.

Flights are offered for individuals or tandem (with a profession al), and last approximately 15 minutes. Following a short training session and instructions from the pilot, you’ll rise to almost 1720 feet above sea level.

From here the scenery is breathtaking: Take in aerial views of Gávea Golf Club, Gavea Rock, and a panorama of the ocean and the South Zone beaches surrounded by the Tijuca Forest. You’ll touch ground at Praia do Pepino.

Paragliding flights also last an average of 15 minutes, departing from Pedra Bonita. Two-time Brazilian paragliding champion Ruy Marra is one of the best pilots available.

When poor weather conditions prohibit hang- or paragliding in São Conrado, an alternative ramp – though somewhat less exciting – can be found at Parque da Cidade, in Niterói.

SÃO CONRADO FASHION MALL

One of the oldest and most upscale shopping centers in Rio, the São Conrado Fashion Mall is home to several international designer boutiques, restaurants, four movie theatres, and a central open-air area ideal for people-watching.

CASA DAS CANOAS

Oscar Niemeyer designed Casa das Canoas as his own residence in 1951.

Its curvy shape mimics the uneven terrain beneath, reflecting the architect’s organic tendency to integrate nature with design.

Today this landmark in Brazilian modernist architecture houses a permanent exhibition of Niemeyer’s furniture, drawings, and models.

Oscar Niemeyer designed Casa das Canoas as his own residence in 1951. Its curvy shape mimics the uneven terrain beneath, reflecting the architect’s organic tendency to integrate nature with design.

Today this landmark in Brazilian modernist architecture houses a permanent exhibition of Niemeyer’s fi.lrniture, drawings, and models. Estrada das Canoas, 2310, São Conrado.

OSCAR NIEMEYER

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1907, Oscar Niemeyer graduated from the Escola de Belas Artes in the 1930s, when modern architecture was just garnering attention in Brazil.

In 1936, Niemeyer was part of the team – led by Lúcio Costa – that designed the Ministry of Education and Health building, now Palácio Gustavo Capanema.

Built with the guidance of Le Corbusier, the Ministry complex is today an international modernist landmark.

In the 1940s, at the request of Juscelino Kubitschek, then mayor of Belo Horizonte, Niemeyer designed the Pampulha complex.

It is here you can spot the curved shapes and large reinforced-concrete structures that were to characterize much of his work. Costa and Niemeyer teamed up again in 1958 to design the new capital building in Brasilia.

His most significant works include Obra do Berҫo and Casa das Canoas, in Rio, the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Niteroi, Ibirapuera Park and the Copan building, in Sao Paulo, the headquarters of the French Communist Parry, the head office of the Mondadori publishing house, in Milan, and the Universiry of Constantine, in Algeria.

ROCINHA

At the top of Morro Dois Irmãos, between Gávea and São Conrado, lies Latin America’s biggest favela, Rocinha.

Founded in the 1920s and elevated to the status of „neighborhood“ in 1993, Rocinha now houses more than 250,000 residents across more than 173 acres. At night, lights from these thousands of huts create an image as typical of Rio as its golden beaches and forest-clad mountains.

The hilltop favela has one of the most spectacular views of Rio de Janeiro.

A short distance from Tijuca Forest, in a privileged part of the city, Rocinha enjoys an infrastructure uncommon in other favelas: successful bars, restaurants, bakeries, pharmacies, shops, creches, and samba schools operate with the town limits.

Cultural and social projects abound: a community TV station, TV Roc; the Casa de Cultura da Rocinha cultural center; respected clothes factory Copa Roca (which sells designer labels); and Escola de Musica, a music school offering choir and popular music lessons.

In the last few years, Rocinha has become a tourist attraction. Air-conditioned vans carry visitors up the hill to catch a glimpse of local life. After outlining basic safety tips and explaining the area’s organized crime and notorious relationship between drug lords and the community, the guides – who speak English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German – show visitors how the fmJe/a is organized, from its energy supply systems to the layout of huts.

Locals hawk handicrafts and other goods on the street.You’ll find products from the north and northeast at Largo dos Boiadeiros, a traditional street fair.

A tour of Rocinha lasts approximately three hours and ends in Favela Vila Canoas, near the more affluent part of São Conrado.

Rocinha is also home to the samba school Academicos da Rocinha. Founded in 1988 following the merge of three community street-carnival blocks, in 2006 the samba school paraded in Rio’s special carnival group, a privilege reserved for only the best schools.

Every Saturday, starting at 10pm, the percussion section delights visitors who come to watch the public rehearsals. Even popular samba artists pelform at the academy from time to time.

The renovated facilities now feature – in addition to new locker rooms – a covered area for spectators (Rua Berta Lutz, 80, Rocinha.

São Conrado travel guide and tourism information such as festivals, maps, activities and attractions in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Brazil Travel Guide

 
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