The site consists of an exceptional urban setting encompassing the key natural elements that have shaped and inspired the development of the city: from the highest points of the Tijuca National Park’s mountains down to the sea. They also include the Botanical Gardens, established in 1808, Corcovado Mountain with its celebrated statue of Christ, and the hills around Guanabara Bay, including the extensive designed landscapes along Copacabana Bay which have contributed to the outdoor living culture of this spectacular city. Rio de Janeiro is also recognized for the artistic inspiration it has provided to musicians, landscapers and urbanists.
The city of Rio de Janeiro, shaped by interaction with mountains and sea, lies in the narrow strip of alluvial plain between Guanabara Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Its exceptionally dramatic landscape is punctuated by a series of forested mountains that tower over the city, rising to the uppermost peak of the Tijuca massif at 1,021 m high, and cascading down to the coast where the steep cone shapes of Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar), Urca, Cara de Cão and Corcovado frame the wide sweeps of Guanabara Bay that shelters Rio de Janeiro from the Atlantic Ocean.
Cradled between these mountains and Guanabara Bay, the urban landscape of the city has been shaped by significant historical events, influenced by a diversity of cultures, is perceived to be of great beauty, and is celebrated in the arts, through painting and poetry in particular.
The property encompasses all the key natural, structural elements that have constrained and inspired the development of the city. These stretch from the highest points of the mountains of the Tijuca National Park with its restored Atlantic forest, down to the sea, and include the Botanical Gardens established in 1808, Corcovado mountain, with its statue of Christ, and the chain of dramatic steep green hills, Sugar Loaf, Pico, Leme and Glória, around Guanabara Bay, as well as the extensive designed landscapes on reclaimed land along Copacabana Bay which, together with Flamengo and other parks, have contributed to the outdoor living culture of the city.
The boundary includes all the best view points to appreciate the way nature has been shaped to become a significant cultural part of the city as well as the Guanabara Bay system of historic fortifications that gave Rio de Janeiro the character of a fortified city.
The city’s densest buildings sit on the narrow strips of alluvial land between the mountains and the sea laid out in irregular clusters of tall white blocks which contrast vividly with the green vegetation of the mountains and the blue of the sea. None of these buildings are included in the property, but a significant number are included in the buffer zone.
The property encompass all the key natural, structural elements that have constrained and inspired the development of the city of Rio, stretching from the highest points of the Tijuca mountains down to the sea, and including the chain of dramatic steep green hills around the Guanabara Bay, as well as the extensive designed landscapes on reclaimed land around the Bay, that have contributed to the outdoor living culture of the city.
None of these elements is under threat, although the interface between these natural elements and the built-up city is vulnerable to urban pressures, the higher peaks are marred by a profusion of antennae and the Rodrigo da Freitas Lagoon (in the buffer zone) and the sea are subject to a degree of water pollution.
The mountains and open green areas of the Tijuca National Park, together with Corcovado and the hills around the Guanabara Bay still retain a similar combination of forest and open observation points as at the time of colonisation and allow access to vistas of the city from many high vantage points that demonstrate very clearly the extraordinary fusion between culture and nature in the way the city has developed.
The Botanical Gardens have retained their original neoclassical design with its special alignments and the fortresses keep alive the memory of the Portuguese settlements, engraved and described by the travellers that navigated the marine routes that focused on Rio de Janeiro.
The landscape designs of Burle Marx around almost the entire coast of Guanabara Bay, comprising Flamengo Park and the redesign of Copacabana beach conserve entirely the landscape morphology of their original designs and still confer high social benefits to the city. However, in some instances elements of the designed landscape are vulnerable to incremental change – such as the paving and planting along Copacabana and Flamengo Park, where missing trees and mosaics need replacing, and in the Botanical Garden where the Imperial Palms along the main avenue are dead and need replacing.
Passage Source: World Heritage Site UNESCO
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