The bohemian neighbourhood of Santa Teresa is located on top of Santa Teresa hill, overlooking the centre of the city. A great way to experience the ‘real Rio’ and a favourite haunt of artists, poets and musicians, Santa Teresa is famous for its winding, narrow, cobble-stoned streets with countless stunning vantage points – and a 100-year-old tram.
This area, known as Rio’s answer to Montmartre, originally grew up around the eighteenth-century Santa Teresa Convent. By the early twentieth century it became an upper class borough dotted with magnificent mansions. Many of these, like the convent, are still standing.
In 1896, the Carioca Aqueduct was converted into a tram line for the Santa Teresa Tramway (bondinho or ‘little tram’). This historic tram still takes visitors to Santa Teresa today from the Carioca Station in downtown Rio.
About a decade ago, Santa Teresa was revitalised as an artistic hotspot with a lively community, and is now home to art studios, galleries and graffiti art, as well as restaurants and bars. But the beautiful panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro and Guanabara Bay haven’t changed.
Museu da Chácara do Céu, once the mansion of illustrious art collector Raimundo Otoni Castro Maya. Includes works by Picasso, Matisse, Monet, Jean Metzinger, Eliseu Visconti and Candido Portinari. Visit their website for more info
Museu do Bonde, tells the story of the Santa Teresa tram, when pulled uphill by donkeys.
The Selarón stairway, 215 steps decorated with regularly-changing mosaics, created by Chilean artist Selarón who moved to Brazil in 1983.
Largo dos Guimarães, Santa Teresa’s busiest area, with most restaurants, bars and art studios. Nearby Largo das Neves, the last tram stop, also has popular bars and the Nossa Senhora das Neves Church.
The Santa Teresa Convent, and the Ship House (Casa Navio, 1938) and Valentim Castle (Castelo de Valentim, late nineteenth century), near Largo do Curvelo.
Parque das Ruínas (Ruins Park), a culture centre with fabulous 360-degree views high up the hill, which hosts exhibits and shows.
Centro Cultural Laurinda Santos Lobo (Rua Monte Alegre 306, phone: 55-21-2242-9741), which occupies a vintage Santa Teresa house, pays homage to an outstanding woman.
Centro Cultural Casa de Benjamin Constant, once home to Brazil’s greatest republicanist. The museum and its grounds are a perfect example of a typical Santa Teresa chácara (country house).