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Lapa Arches Rio de Janeiro

Lapa Arches Rio de Janeiro

Maybe you’ve heard of Lapa? If not, you should! Lapa is the most bohemian area of Rio de Janeiro. It is there that you find the nightlife, restaurants and good options to stay when visiting Rio de Janeiro.

It is very easy to know that you have arrived in Lapa. There is a famous monument that is the official image of Lapa. I’m talking about the great white arches that locals call Arcos da Lapa Rio de Janeiro.

In this text you will learn about the history, facts and curiosities of the monument, where it is located and its use these days.



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Find out the best ways to go to Christ the Redeemer and the Sugar Loaf, as well as what to do in other interesting areas, such as the charming neighborhood of Santa Teresa. Get practical tips about customs, nightlife, restaurants and a lot more to make the most of your days in Rio!

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Let’s start by explaining to you the story of the Arches in Lapa:


Why were the Arcos da Lapa built in Rio de Janeiro? 

The Arches in Lapa began to be planned as early as 1600, in fact its construction began in the eighteenth century, between the years 1723 and 1744, and one of the main reasons for its construction was because at that time the population of Rio de Janeiro suffered from lack of water. So the idea was to take water from the Rio Carioca to a fountain in Largo da Carioca. From there, the water was distributed to another fountain in Place XV, where ships arrived. The aqueduct was built between the hills of Santa Teresa and Santo Antônio, of which little remains, since part had been destroyexd in the 1950s. 


As early as the middle of the nineteenth century, the water supply network of the city advanced and there was no use for the aqueduct. At this time, the first cable cars began to appear in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. The first cable car, pulled by mules, was inaugurated in 1859 by Emperor Dom Pedro II. 

A few years later, steam trams replaced the mules. At the end of the 19th century, precisely in 1896, the Arcos da Lapa connected to the public system of cable cars, becoming the main means of transportation between the Center and Santa Teresa. The yellow cable car is one of the routes used to transport tourists and the Rio locals themselves.  This is the last old line of trams still active in Rio de Janeiro! 


1 Structure: Do you recognize the architectural style of the arches in another historical empire? Rome, perhaps? Arcos da Lapa is not his official name. In fact, its name is Carioca Aqueduct. But do not worry, nowadays everyone calls them Arcos da Lapa, or just Arcos. As the official name already says, the monument is an aqueduct, created to carry water from one point to the other. And the first aqueducts were created in the Roman Empire. 

2 Dimensions: The arches extend for approximately 270 meters and the height reaches a little less than 18 meters. Composed of 42 Roman-style arches, the Arcos da Lapa is the largest and most important colonial building in Brazil (and Rio de Janeiro)! Like most of the buildings of the time, they were also built by indigenous and African slaves. 

3 Materials used in its construction: Its first structure was made with iron pipes, but soon it was changed because the material did not resist the conditions and suffered corrosions. This caused the Count of Bobadela – Gomes Freire de Andrade, the governor of the time – to order the reconstruction of the Arches. This time, with materials more resistant, solid and safe. Stone and lime were the most used raw materials to rebuild the Aqueduct. Mixed with the whale oil, they produced an extremely tough concrete alloy. This compound was the main base of the civil construction of the time, widely used throughout the country in works of forts, churches and other buildings that needed to be robust. 


Today, the Arcos da Lapa is a famous tourist spot and a good reference if you get lost! It is located in Cardeal Câmara Square, part of the Central Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The Arcos da Lapa is the gateway to the neighbourhood of Lapa, which in this section has two main streets: Mem de Sa and Riachuelo. 

As previously mentioned, the cable car line still passes over the Arches. Through it still passes the yellow cable car that connects Largo da Carioca to Santa Teresa. Today, the cable car is more of a tourist attraction than a transportation for the locals. But I recommend the experience! Tip for what you are traveling with the tight budget: the ticket for the cable car costs R$ 20 from the Carioca Station to Santa Teresa, for a return trip! 



But, in addition to its popularity with tourists, the Arches in Lapa is also a popular spot for homeless people. Therefore, when you visit, pay attention to the surroundings, avoid days of little movement (Sundays and holidays). Consider joining our Free Walking Tour Downtown & Lapa, which, in addition to learning about history, group walking will be safer! 

Around the Arcos da Lapa, there are two of the most important concert halls in the city: Fundição Progresso and Circo Voador. Both function as cultural complexes of Brazilian reference, with spaces that unite art school, artistic residences and stage for great musical shows, frequently receiving great national and international personalities. 

Fundição Progresso 

Address: Rua dos Arcos, 24. Lapa. 

Phone: (21) 3212-0800. 

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 08h to 21h. 



FREE e-book of Rio de Janeiro

We answer the most asked questions about Rio de Janeiro in this FREE e-book to help those coming to the city!

Find out the best ways to go to Christ the Redeemer and the Sugar Loaf, as well as what to do in other interesting areas, such as the charming neighborhood of Santa Teresa. Get practical tips about customs, nightlife, restaurants and a lot more to make the most of your days in Rio!

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Circo Voador 

Address: Rua dos Arcos s / n, Lapa. 

Phone: (21) 2533-0354. 

Hours of operation: varied weekly schedule. 

The best parties also happen near the Arches. The streets are filled with tourists and local people. The Plaza de Arcos is a place with some stalls where drink and food are the main attractions! Normally, the locals go down the street to drink (caipirinhas are very cheap) before going to the bar or going to the nightlife! 

Undoubtedly one of the best places to enjoy an evening in Rio de Janeiro. If you want to enjoy a fun evening in Lapa, but with a very lively group with selected spaces to dance a lot, we invite you to participate in our Pub Crawl Lapa and we will take you to the best places in Lapa’s nightlife! 

And since we introduce you all about the Lapa Arches, it’s time to get to know Lapa better, too, right? 

Lapa became a famous neighbourhood in the early twentieth century. Known as the “Montmartre Carioca”, the place was full of restaurants and cabarets. A diverse area, frequented by movie stars, important and marginal politicians. On the other hand, Lapa was also an industrial pole of furniture, clothes and food products. We leave here one of our posts that explains several interesting points about the neighbourhood of Lapa. 



Today, Lapa is the party district of Rio de Janeiro. And you do not even need to be a Carioca to know that!  HAHA. The neighbourhood is considered the most bohemian of Rio de Janeiro and is a must stop for anyone who wants to meet the night of the city. We love Lapa because of the democratic character of the space, there are options of bars, restaurants, discos and ballads for all audiences, which is wonderful, promoting interaction among all tribes! If you are looking to know more about this diversity in Lapa we leave you a post about the night in Lapa. 

With so many options to do and where to go in Lapa, I imagine that it is not a very easy decision to choose all the points you want to know and even more to know the best bars on their own, right? We leave you here a golden guide to know the best bars in Lapa! 


Did you know that a lot of people are looking for the Lapa neighbourhood to stay? The locality of Arcos is a good option for those who want to enjoy a lot of partying. 

It is well located in the city center, perfect for getting around to the most popular sights, as well as being a cheaper option for lodging, meals and shopping. The neighbourhood is well structured with supermarkets, pharmacies, shops and more. 

Here we have two lodging options for you: 

Hotel Selina Rio is the closest lodging option to the Selarón Staircase and the Arcos da Lapa, right next to the Cecília Meireles Room. The place is an old luxury hotel that has been restored and is very comfortable. Well located, close to metro, close to Lapa, but does not suffer from the noise and the intense movement of the neighbourhood. Very charming option. 

One option of Hostel closer to Arcos da Lapa is Da Lapa Design, which is interesting also if you are looking for something close to the main parties and bars, the space is very comfortable and in the heart of Lapa. 


What did you think of our tips? Now that you know better about the Arcos and the neighbourhood of Lapa, just enjoy it! 

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