Lapa during the day isn’t very impressive. In fact, it looks very seedy. But at night, the transformation takes place into Rio’s party center. All kinds of bars and clubs playing anything from samba to rock run late into the night and it is the place to be on weekends.
As far as actual sights, the most important is Arcos da Lapa. This aqueduct was built in 1724 to bring water down from Santa Teresa into the city. A tram used to run on it until there was an accident and 5 people were killed. The tracks are currently being refitted and modernized but no completion date has been set.
One of the buildings behind the aqueduct is Fundição Progresso. This cultural center is located in an old foundry and is dedicated to showcasing art and music. Many international artists have performed there. It also offers workshops.
The famous stairway, Escadaria Selarón, leads from Lapa up to the Santa Teresa neighborhood. It’s a wonderful place to wander around for a few hours. This hilly area does not feel like the rest of Rio de Janeiro at all. When in Santa Teresa, you feel transported to another world and back in time.
This quiet and friendly neighborhood is full of artists. You’ll find people working on sculptures, street art, and some galleries selling antiques and crafts.
Some of the most beautiful mansions in Rio are located in Santa Teresa. Many are inspired by French architecture and have been turned into boutique hotels capitalizing on the incredible views of Rio from the neighborhood.
It also holds an oddity in Rio. Igreja Ortodoxa Russa de Santa Mártir Zenaide, a small Russian Orthodox church, serves a tiny Russian community. There are also a few more churches of different denominations scattered throughout the neighborhood, including the Convento Santa Teresa at the top of Escadaria Selarón.
Before finishing up in Santa Teresa, we made a stop at Armazém São Thiago, a restaurant and bar founded in 1919 and set in an old warehouse. We tried some cachaça, a traditional Brazilian liquor made of fermented sugar cane juice. It’s the prime ingredient in a caipirinha. We also stopped at a local shop to try some pão de queijo.