Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea

S22 56 52 W43 17 29
Date of Inscription: 2012
Criteria: (v)(vi)
Property : 7,248.78 ha
Buffer zone: 8,621.38 ha
Ref: 1100rev
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The site consists of an exceptional urban setting encompassing the key natural elements that have shaped and inspired the development of the city: from the highest points of the Tijuca National Park’s mountains down to the sea. They also include the Botanical Gardens, established in 1808, Corcovado Mountain with its celebrated statue of Christ, and the hills around Guanabara Bay, including the extensive designed landscapes along Copacabana Bay which have contributed to the outdoor living culture of this spectacular city. Rio de Janeiro is also recognized for the artistic inspiration it has provided to musicians, landscapers and urbanists.

The city of Rio de Janeiro, shaped by interaction with mountains and sea, lies in the narrow strip of alluvial plain between Guanabara Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Its exceptionally dramatic landscape is punctuated by a series of forested mountains that tower over the city, rising to the uppermost peak of the Tijuca massif at 1,021 m high, and cascading down to the coast where the steep cone shapes of Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar), Urca, Cara de Cão and Corcovado frame the wide sweeps of Guanabara Bay that shelters Rio de Janeiro from the Atlantic Ocean.

Cradled between these mountains and Guanabara Bay, the urban landscape of the city has been shaped by significant historical events, influenced by a diversity of cultures, is perceived to be of great beauty, and is celebrated in the arts, through painting and poetry in particular.

The property encompasses all the key natural, structural elements that have constrained and inspired the development of the city. These stretch from the highest points of the mountains of the Tijuca National Park with its restored Atlantic forest, down to the sea, and include the Botanical Gardens established in 1808, Corcovado mountain, with its statue of Christ, and the chain of dramatic steep green hills, Sugar Loaf, Pico, Leme and Glória, around Guanabara Bay, as well as the extensive designed landscapes on reclaimed land along Copacabana Bay which, together with Flamengo and other parks, have contributed to the outdoor living culture of the city.

The boundary includes all the best view points to appreciate the way nature has been shaped to become a significant cultural part of the city as well as the Guanabara Bay system of historic fortifications that gave Rio de Janeiro the character of a fortified city.

The city’s densest buildings sit on the narrow strips of alluvial land between the mountains and the sea laid out in irregular clusters of tall white blocks which contrast vividly with the green vegetation of the mountains and the blue of the sea. None of these buildings are included in the property, but a significant number are included in the buffer zone.

Criterion (v): The development of the city of Rio de Janeiro has been shaped by a creative fusion between nature and culture. This interchange is not the result of persistent traditional processes but rather reflects an interchange based on scientific, environmental and design ideas that led to innovative landscape creations on a major scale in the heart of the city during little more than a century. These processes have created an urban landscape perceived to be of great beauty by many writers and travellers and one that has shaped the culture of the city.

Criterion (vi): The dramatic landscape of Rio de Janeiro has provided inspiration for many forms of art, literature, poetry, and music. Images of Rio, which show the bay, Sugar Loaf and the statue of Christ the Redeemer have had a high worldwide recognition factor, since the middle of the 19th century. Such high recognition factors can be either positive or negative: in the case of Rio, the image that was projected, and still is projected, is one of a staggeringly beautiful location for one of the world’s biggest cities.


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Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil, on the South Atlantic coast. Rio is famous for its breathtaking landscape, its laid-back beach culture and its annual carnival. The “Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea” has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The harbour of Rio de Janeiro is comprised of a unique entry from the ocean that makes it appear as the mouth of a river. Additionally, the harbor is surrounded by spectacular geographic features including Sugarloaf mountain at 395 meters (1,296 feet), Corcovado Peak at 704 meters (2,310 feet), and the hills of Tijuca at 1,021 meters (3,350 feet). These features work together to collectively make the harbor one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Rio de Janeiro hosted many of the 2014 FIFA World Cup games, including the final. It also hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, becoming the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics [read more].

São Gonçalo is a municipality located in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro. It is on northeastern Guanabara Bay in the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Area. It is located at 22° 49′ 37″ S, 43° 3′ 14″ W at an altitude of 19 metres (62 feet) above sea level. The population of São Gonçalo was 1,091,737 in 2020, and its area is 249 square kilometres (96 square miles). It is the second most populous city of the state, after the capital Rio de Janeiro city. Until recently it was the third largest, when Mesquita was split off as its own city from Nova Iguaçu. The municipality contains 4% of the 1,936 hectares (4,780 acres) Guanabara Ecological Station, created in 2006. It contains part of the Central Rio de Janeiro Atlantic Forest Mosaic of conservation units, created in 2006. The type of climate of São Gonçalo is Atlantic tropical, with rainy summers and relatively dry winters [read more].

Duque de Caxias is a city on Guanabara Bay and part of Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, being the third most populous in Rio de Janeiro state, southeastern Brazil. It is bordered by Rio de Janeiro city to the south. Its population was 924,624 (2020) and its area is 465 km², making it the second most populous suburb of Rio de Janeiro city. The city is the third most populous in Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Area. The current mayor is Washington Reis. It is named after Luís Alves de Lima e Silva, Duke of Caxias, who was born there in 1803. The city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Duque de Caxias. Its important industries are chemicals and oil refining. Duque de Caxias Futebol Clube is the local football team of the city. The club plays their home matches at Estádio Romário de Souza Faria, which has a maximum capacity of 10,000 people [read more]



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