Finally we headed to Rio. As it was in the afternoon, we stayed on the outskirts of town. On a lovely quiet Motel. It was different than all the others we’ve been. I guess they had a part of it for families, so a kind of Hotel. I remember in the morning we went down to eat breakfast. It was a good place.
Rio de Janeiro, was different than we thought. As we were there in late winter / early spring there weren’t any naked women on the beach or masses of tourists. No, it was pleasant to be there. Founded in 1565 by the Portuguese, the city was initially the seat of the Captaincy of Rio de Janeiro, a domain of the Portuguese Empire. Later, in 1763, it became the capital of the State of Brazil, a state of the Portuguese Empire. In 1808, when the Portuguese Royal Court transferred itself from Portugal to Brazil, Rio de Janeiro became the chosen seat of the court of Queen Maria I of Portugal, who subsequently, in 1815, under the leadership of her son, the Prince Regent, and future King João VI of Portugal, raised Brazil to the dignity of a kingdom, within the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarves. Rio stayed the capital of the pluricontinental Lusitanian monarchy until 1822, when the War of Brazilian Independence began. This is one of the few instances in history that the capital of a colonising country officially shifted to a city in one of its colonies. Rio de Janeiro subsequently served as the capital of the independent monarchy, the Empire of Brazil, until 1889, and then the capital of a republican Brazil until 1960 when the capital was transferred to Brasília.
Europeans first encountered Guanabara Bay on 1 January 1502 (hence Rio de Janeiro, “January River”), by a Portuguese expedition. Allegedly the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci participated as observer at the invitation of King Manuel I in the same expedition.
In 1555, one of the islands of Guanabara Bay, now called Villegagnon Island, was occupied by 500 French colonists under the French admiral Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon. Consequently, Villegagnon built Fort Coligny on the island when attempting to establish the France Antarctique colony.
The city of Rio de Janeiro proper was founded by the Portuguese on 1 March 1565 and was named São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, in honour of St. Sebastian, the saint who was the namesake and patron of the Portuguese then-monarch Sebastião. Rio de Janeiro was the name of Guanabara Bay. Until early in the 18th century, the city was threatened or invaded by several mostly French pirates and buccaneers, such as Jean-François Duclerc and René Duguay-Trouin.
In the late 17th century, still during the Sugar Era, the Bandeirantes discovered gold and diamonds in the neighbouring captaincy of Minas Gerais, thus Rio de Janeiro became a much more practical port for exporting wealth (gold, precious stones, besides the sugar) than Salvador, Bahia, much farther northeast. On 27 January 1763, the colonial administration in Portuguese America was moved from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. The city remained primarily a colonial capital until 1808, when the Portuguese royal family and most of the associated Lisbon nobles, fleeing from Napoleon’s invasion of Portugal, moved to Rio de Janeiro.
The kingdom’s capital was transferred to the city, which, thus, became the only European capital outside of Europe. As there was no physical space or urban structure to accommodate hundreds of noblemen who arrived suddenly, many inhabitants were simply evicted from their homes.
Unfortunately it was expensive to go up the Cristo Rei, so we contented ourselves to see the town from the highest part we could go.
The favelas could be seen as a hidden part of town.
After these two months spent in Brazil, we decided to cross the border to Argentina by bus. But that’s another story.