Crazy about Brazil? Here are 5 colourful things you might not know about Rio de Janeiro!
1. The Rio Carnival is the world’s largest
That famous colourful bonanza, the Rio de Janeiro carnival is in fact the biggest carnival in the world. For a duration of 5 days there is a total of 587 parties (!). It marks the beginning of Lent and dates back as far as 1723. There are more than 2 million people on the streets every day during the carnival easily making this the party of the year. And what a party that is – boosting the local economy with as much as £570m! Win and win.
2. The statue of Christ the Redeemer is quite electric
And by that we mean: it is actually struck by lightning several times a year! Brazil’s location makes it an active area for lightning and while those do not really tend to have a massive effect on the statue, there are a few instances when they really do. In 2008, for example, a violent electrical storm damaged the head, eyebrows and fingers of the beloved Rio statue.
3. Rio was once held to ransom…
…by the French who back in 1711 asked the Portuguese to pay 612,000 gold cruzados and 100 chests of sugar in order to get it back. Of course, the Portuguese paid up and the French got to enjoy all that sugar…To be fair you do need some quality sugar to perfect that gorgeous brûlée top!
4. Rio de Janeiro used to be a European capital
Yes, you read that right. Rio was once a European capital outside of Europe as a part of the Portuguese Empire. When Napoleon’s troops were getting closer to invading Portugal in 1807, Dom João VI moved the whole kingdom to Rio instead. What a plan.
5. Rio hosted the world’s biggest football match
Back on 16th July 1950, the Maracanã stadium hosted the final game between Brazil and Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup. Naturally for such a massive football nation, the stadium was packed – with 173,850 paid spectators (and an estimated 20,000 free loaders) to be exact, making this the biggest football match to date! Unfortunately for the hosts, however, they lost to Uruguay making this huge event a lot more bitter than sweet, and this day was forever remembered in Brazil as Maracanazo.
Bonus tip: Head to sunny Portugal if you want to get to know the Portuguese culture that had such a massive influence on Rio and Brazil as a whole. Not only is it still a very exciting place, but also – very close to home, too!