Docks Area Rio de Janeiro
Imagine a small area where is located and old slave ship port, the birthplace of samba, a futuristic museum, worlds biggest graffiti and a picturesque shore promenade! Welcome to Docks Area of Rio de Janeiro! This part of Rio de Janeiro still today is unknown, especially between tourists, that’s why we want to show you all the amazing secrets this place has!
Rio de Janeiro Docks Area locates just a few blocks north of Downtown Rio de Janeiro. To be more specific, the neighborhoods are called as Gambôa and Saúde. The closest metro station is Uruguaiana, but actually the best way to get there, is the brand new VLT tram. This tram connects Santos Dumont airport to the bus station, and crosses the Docks Area on the way.
If you’re already close by Downtown Rio de Janeiro, you can easily walk there. Take a picturesque walk by the “Olympic Boulevard”, also known as Orla Conde. This street is pedestrians only, and especially during weekends the promenade gets packed of people. The views are amazing over the Guanabara Bay, and on a sunny day you can see Niterói very clearly!
Docks Area is also where international cruise ships embark on Pier Mauá cruise ship terminal! Might sound weird, but that’s also a popular place for events and parties!
Did you know Brazil was the country that received the biggest number of African slaves? And that we were the last country of the Americas to abolish slavery? These facts obviously mirror to the society today, and many of Brazilian traditions or even religions are influenced by the Africans!
Pequena Africa, or, Little Africa in English, is an area on Docks Area Rio de Janeiro. The name, Little Africa come from the slavery times. On that zone, was one of the biggest ports that received slave ships from Africa. This port, also known as Cais do Valongo, was rediscovered on 2011, when the reform of the zone started. Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
After abolishing slavery in Brazil, on 1888, many of the ex-slaves stayed working on the area. Until 1960 Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil, and received a lot of black residents moving from North-East Brazil to search for a job. Majority of these new residents settled around the Little Africa, since many job offers were close by, and the zone was already habited by Africans.
Little Africa became a black community, where such as samba and capoeira were practiced with frequency! Surely you knew, that samba is a national thing here in Brazil. But did you know that when you visit Docks Area in Rio de Janeiro, you can visit a place where samba and the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro were born? This place is called Pedra do Sal. Today it’s famous for a samba street party happening every Monday and Friday night!
Are you interested to hear more stories about Little Africa? Join us to our Free Walking Tour African Heritage & Docks Area, every Monday and Thursday afternoons! You will learn about the slavery, the African influence, afro-brazilian traditions and today’s society in Brazil!
Praça Mauá & Surroundings of Docks Area
You must know, that Rio de Janeiro hosted the 2016 Olympic Games. I already mentioned, that on the Docks Area, is also located the famous “Olympic Boulevard”. This boulevard is 3km long sea-shore promenade connects Praça XV to the docks area, where is also the cruise ship terminal. During the Olympics, this zone was full of attractions, big screens, hot air balloon, music shows, bungee jump…
On the heart of the Olympic Boulevard, locates a beautiful square called Praça Mauá. The name is a tribute for the Baron of Mauá, who was an important politician and a business man. There are two great museums on Mauá square; Museum of Tomorrow and Museum of Art. I highly recommend visiting both of these museums, especially on Tuesdays when the entrance is free!
Museum of Tomorrow is this futuristic, very interactive museum that handles themes like the climate change, cultures and habits of the world, the history and the future of our planet. It’s a project of a spanish architect called Santiago Calatrava. Same guy planned for example the City of Arts in Valencia and the WTC Transportation Hub in New York!
The Museum of Art, also known shortly as MAR is another great museum to visit. The exhibitions unite historical and contemporaneous art, from Brazil or all over the world! They also have a great viewpoint, that offers views over Praça Mauá and the Guanabara Bay.
During weekends Praça Mauá hosts different kinds of cultural or gastronomical events. Live music, capoeira shows, food trucks and artisanal beer are especially hyped at the moment! Make sure you don’t leave Praça Mauá before sunset, since it offers one of the best sunsets of the city!
Graffiti is legal in Brazil since March 2009. After this, the street art culture of Brazil started to grow, and today we have some of world’s best graffiti artists!
On Rio de Janeiro Docks Area, close by Praça Mauá, is located a huge mural called “Etnias”. It’s a biggest graffiti of the world made by one single person! This person is called Eduardo Kobra, from São Paulo. The graffiti was a project for the Olympics, and the painting represents 5 different indigenous natives from different continents. The painting is extremely detailed and colourful! And guys, Kobra was really fast to finish the project! It took him only 6 weeks to finish the 30m x 10m wall!!
Kobra’s work is not the only graffiti on the area. If you keep on walking by Olympic Boulevard, you will see wonderful paintings every where! So, if you’re into street art, don’t miss the graffiti of the port zone!