Rio de Janeiro is one of the biggest cities in Brazil, which also makes it huge in international parameters. Together with its size, Rio carries with it a very diverse cultural scene, and this can be seen in its several touristic attractions. You probably already know some of these: the Statue of Christ the Redeemer, the Car cable of Pão de Açucar hill, or even Copacabana beach. But Rio goes way beyond that and can surprise you with the diversity of its attractions. Through this article, I will drive you through one of my favorites and more exotic destinations: the Chinese Belvedere (in Portuguese, Vista Chinesa), one of the most amazing viewpoints in Rio.
The Chinese belvedere monument got constructed around 1856, when the Botanical Garden was linked via a carriage road to the Alto da Boa Vista village, at the top of the Tijuca hill. The construction of the road started by the order of the Baron of Bom Retiro, who was part of Rio's aristocracy back then. For the construction, they used workers brought from Macau, China - they were here to develop the rice agriculture in Rio. After the failure of the first rice crops, the Chinese started to live around the region, creating that way their little community.
Despite the rice plantations, there was also an excellent incentive for the Chinese immigrants to teach the planting and preparation of tea to Brazil. Since 1814, the Island of Governor was a region for this cultivation, that also grew at the Botanical Garden. That is why in 1903, the Mayor of Rio, Pereira Passos, started a project lead by the architect Luis Rei to build the structure - copying the traditional Chinese architecture -, on the margins of this road, in honor of the Chinese people. The pavilion was called Vista Chinesa, and it is considered even today a mark of friendship between Brazil and China.
The Chinese belvedere is the perfect place to end up a day trip around the neighborhood of Jardim Botanico. Because it is located 380 meters above sea level, its view is amazing and covers almost the entire city of Rio de Janeiro. So, I do highly recommend you go there and see this place, especially around the sunset, at 17h30.
First, you should start your day at the Park Lage, with a tasty full colonial breakfast (it is a bit expensive, but worth all the cost) at the cafeteria inside the Palace. There you can book a table by the pool and have a good meal while overlooking the Christ Statue - this is one of the best experiences you can have in Rio, in my opinion.
After your first stop, go to the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro. This park also functions as an essential research institute and is considered a national heritage site and a biosphere reserve of the Atlantic Forest by UNESCO. As the park is huge, to see everything, spare part of your morning and afternoon to explore it. The Garden has a total of 540 thousand square meters of cultivated area and more than 3.500 different plant species (native and exotic), coming from all over the world. Its symbol is the imperial palm trees that were planted at the main entrance, at the time the Garden was being built.
The aristocracy of Rio normally used the place where the Emperor's Table (or, Mesa do Imperador) is located for country lunches. But it got its name after it was continuously visited the emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, on his walks into the forest. As time went by, the place became a mandatory stop for visitors looking for a beautiful landscape. Take the opportunity to interact with the small monkeys that walk around the area. They are extremely adorable and fun. The Emperor's Table is located on the same route as the Chinese belvedere. Keep in mind that the place is open daily from 8h to 17h, and the access is free.
After all this amazing day, be prepared for one of the most beautiful landscapes you will ever see in your life. The Chinese belvedere gives you the possibility to see almost the entire city of Rio. From the top, you have a privileged view of Christ the Redeemer, Guanabara Bay, Sugar Pain Hill, Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, Ipanema and Leblon beaches, as well as Dois Irmãos Hill, icons of Rio de Janeiro.
You can reach the location on foot. Walking to the Chinese belvedere, however, is an option reserved for those who have a lot of time to explore. From the Botanical Garden to the spot, the distance is more or less 6 km, but the tricky part here is the elevation - as I said before, the belvedere is located at 380 meters above the sea.
Access by bus, unfortunately, does not exist, so the closest point you could reach the spot from would have to be the Botanical Garden. So, the best option to get there without getting tired is to get a private car service. The prices go around 20 reais (or so, 4 euros) for uber and 40 reais for a taxi, both starting and dropping you at the Garden. The viewpoint is open every day, from 8h to 17h, but during summertime, the closing time is at 18h.
Enjoy the amazing view that the Chinese Belvedere has to offer!!
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