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Guanabara Bay

Rio de Janeiro City has on its shore one of the most beatiful and famous bay on the world, Guanabara Bay. It is the second largest in Brazil, and It has always fascinated travelers for its size, 412 km², and especially for its exuberant beauty.

Remarkable Comments Describes The Bay

Panoramic view of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro CityIn 1585, in his famous "Letters", the jesuit José de Anchieta wrote about Guanabara Bay; "It is the most charming and plesant bay in Brazil.

Besides remarking on the agreable atmosphere of Guanabara Bay, Anchieta wished to confirrn what had been written by others before him, and would be corroborated by many after him, that the view of Guanabara Bay is lovely and inspiring.

On January 1st 1502, the Portuguese explorer André Gonçalves, when sailing along the coast, found a bay that to him looked like the delta of the Portuguese river Tejo and named it Rio de Janeiro (January River). The name due to a false impression was never changed.

The French navigator Antoine Bougainville, visiting Rio in 1766, commented on Guanabara Bay: "it will always give the keenest pleasure to travelers... Nothing is richer than the views all around."

Bougainville's name was given to the plants of the genus Bougainvillea whose small pink, lilac, white, yellow or red flowers are common in Rio and cultivated as ornamental plants.

Rio de Janeiro grew from the coastal outline of Guanabara Bay.

The famous Sugar Loaf rises rnajestic at the entry to the bay whose beauty has been sung since the first Portuguese seafarings enjoyed that privileged topographic vision.

The panoramic view of Guanabara Bay has been repetedly photographed from the Dona Marta Belvedere since 1890 when Marc Ferrez documented it. Since then the sight has been the object of admiration and interest on the internet as in books, magazines, leflets, handouts and tourist guides.

Guanabara bay circa 1834

Above in picture, the Guanabara Bay around 1835. Some parts of the shore was still in its natural form without the embankments that were made in the first half of the 20 century.

Anyway, long before Marc Ferrez, the so called travellers painters, that visited Brazil soon after the Portuguese Court came to Brazil in 1808, produced a vast and wonderful collection of paintings that made Rio de Janeiro famous in Europe. All those painter, such as Debret, Rugendas, Thomas Enders, Chamberlain, and many others produced paintings that became famous and known as "Brasilianas", and were published in Europe, via books and through lithograpy, telling the Old World about the beauties of prosperous Rio de Janeiro City.

Guanabara Bay | Description of the main points

It was the Guanabara Bay and Rio de Janeiro City of the 19th Century, somewhat different from nowaday. It was also a wonderful and picturesque world that does not exist anymore as it used to be in apperance, regarding topograpy and architecture.

Thanks to the "travellers painters", we still can travell in time. So, to see that old and wonderful Rio you have to look for it only in books and brasilianas (paintings of the time), for it is no more than a dream remembered. An old Era that gone with the wind...to give passage to the modern Rio, which is beatiful as well. Anyway, if you have not seen the old one you do not know what you have been missing !