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Home » Citytours & Maps » All About São Cristovão
All about Sao Cristovao, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Feira do Nordeste. Photo by Silviano for All rights reserved | Todos os direitos reservados This photo is digitally watermarked and tracked. Copies are strictly forbidden. Property of

Sao Cristovao is a very traditional area of Rio, dating back to the colonial years. When the Royal Portuguese family moved to Brazil escaping from the Napoleonic wars, their first home was in what is today known as Praca XV. Prince Regente Dom Joao VI was not comfortable in the Paco Imperial, and he moved with his family to a palace in the hilly area of Sao Cristovao, known as Quinta da Boa Vista. This is where today you find Rio de Janeiro's Zoo and the National Museum of Natural History (the largest in Latin America). Keeping to royal traditions, not far from the Quinta you will find the Solar da Marquesa dos Santos, a museum located in what was once the home to Dom Pedro I`s most famous mistress.

There are other well-known attractions in Sao Cristovao you may have heard of. One of them is Rio de Janeiro's soccer stadium, once the largest in the world, the still impressive Maracana. The Pavilion of Sao Cristovao is another famous structure. It was abandoned for quite a while, but today it's home to the most colorful market in Rio - the Feira do Nordeste, with everything related to the Brazilian Northeast. Even though Sao Cristovao is a bit too far from the beaches and what most visitors consider the "center" of Rio, a visit to this part of town should definitely be in your plans.

Sao Cristovao, Maracana, and docks. Photo by Silviano for This photo is digitally watermarked and tracked. All rights reserved | Todos os direitos reservados

This huge area with over 150 thousand square meters was the official home to the Royal and Imperial Family from 1809 to 1889. The romantic gardens were designed in 1869 by French landscape designer Auguste Francois Marie Glaziou. The Quinta is located on a hill, thus the name meaning in Portuguese something like Manor of the Good Sight.

This is where Princess Isabel (who would later free the slaves) was born. Among its blue-blooded residents was Dom Pedro I, who build a home nearby to lodge his favorite mistress, Marquesa de Santos.

The palace was turned into a museum, and the gardens with small lakes, grouts, lawns and trees is open for public visitation. This is also where you will find Rio de Janeiro's zoo.

The National Museum was the first scientific institution in Brazil, created by D. João VI in the year of 1818. Today it is part of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. It is located in a landmark building that has served as residence for the Portuguese Royal family and for the Brazilian Imperial family. Dom Pedro II (our last emperor) was born and lived here until he went to France in exile in 1889. The museum was transferred to this palace in 1892. There are six departments, namely: Anthropology, Botany, Geology/Paleontology, Entomology, Invertebrates and Vertebrates. Rio's Zoo and the Fauna Museum are also at Quinta da Boa Vista. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Quinta da Boa Vista s/n - São Cristóvão. 

The Zoological Gardens of Rio de Janeiro are at Quinta da Boa Vista, and a visit is a must - especially to travelers with children. There are over 2,500 species of animals distributed in different areas according to their geographical origin. In addition to the mandatory zebras and elephants, you will find a vast collection of native Brazilian animals. Curious creatures like the tamandua bandeira, a large anteater striped like a skunk, that could stand squish your bones with its powerful embrace! Like many modern zoos, Rio Zoo plays an important role in the preservation of wildlife. Schoolchildren on guided tours are often seen on the premises.

This palace was built by Dom Pedro I to Domitilia de Castro Canto e Melo, the Marquesa de Santos. She became Dom Pedro I`s mistress and moved from Sao Paulo to Rio in 1822. She first lived in Rio Comprido, and in 1826 Dom Pedro I bought the lot in the street that is today known as Dom Pedro II. The two-floored townhouse built in neoclassical style was designed by French architect Pedro Pezerrat and shows the influence of the French Mission (a group of architects brought from France by Prince Regent Dom Joao VI). Even though Marquesa de Santos lived in the house only for a year, the collection displays many of her objects - including the letters she received from Dom Pedro I. Another illustrious resident of the Solar was Barao de Maua.
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