Sambadrome | Meet the Rio Neighborhoods
Information about the area where the Sambadrome or Sambódromo is.
The 700 m long Sambódromo Marques de Sapucai, also known as the Apoteose Square, was built in 1984. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, its purpose is to serve as the venue for Rio de Janeiro’s famous annual Samba parade, during carnival time. Some of the attractions close to this area are mentioned below.
Campo de Santana
This is a 155,000 sq.m park containing over 50 species of trees, several fountains and lakes. Here ducks, peacocks, mini capybaras and marmosets can be found. It was also the location for the royal procession of Dom Pedro I, when he was crowned Emperor. The park also contains some statues and monuments, such as the one dedicated to Benjamin Constant.
Praça 15 de Novembro
A square with several historical monuments, this is also the location for several markets selling antiques, art, coins and postage stamps. In this area are the Tiradentes Palace and the Imperial Palace.
Samba, Salsa and Ballroom dancing
Legend has it that the samba originated at the home of a freed African slave named Tia (Aunt) Ciata. The location of the Sambódromo is supposed to be where her house was. The Sao Clemente school is located close to this area, at Av. Presidente Vargas and here you can watch the group practice for the grand samba parade. A great place to practice your samba and salsa steps is at one of the nearby local ‘gafieiras’ or samba parlors. The Gafieira Elite club on Rua Frei Caneca provides just this opportunity. Estudantina Café, founded in 1932 is the oldest gafieira in Rio de Janeiro and is one of the centers that keeps ballroom salsa or ‘samba de salão alive. Not too far away in Lapa are another two clubs where one can dance the samba – at Democraticos and Carioca da Gema.
Cidade do Samba
The City of Samba, established by the government in 2008 in nearby Gamboa, is where the schools of Liga Independente das Escolas de Samba have a permanent carnival workshops. This is a great place to watch costumes and floats being put together for the Rio de Janeiro carnival or to catch a performance of a carnival themed show.
São Bento Monastery
The still functioning St. Benedict’s Monastery is not too far away from the Sambódromo and has been around since the 1600’s. It sits on a hill overlooking Guanabara Bay. Soothing Gregorian chants are performed every Sunday at this quiet haven in the midst of a bustling city. While the outside is not very impressive, the interior is a fine example of impressive baroque architecture.
Where to eat
Good places to eat in the area include Beco das Sardinhas, which has been around since the 1960’s, serving South American cuisine and Bar Luiz, a popular hang out for politicians and intellectuals, which has been around since 1887. It is simply decorated but has interesting black and white photos of old Rio. German food is the main fare, with its wiener schnitzel, sausage, sauerkraut, kassler ham and potato salad, renowned all over the city.