The second-most populous city in Brazil and the sixth-most populous in the whole of the Americas, Rio de Janeiro is, quite possibly, the country’s most famous city. Famed for its golden beaches, like the iconic Coccocabana, tropical landscapes and rollicking rhythms, millions of tourists visit the city every year. But how much do you know about this captivating city? From the world’s largest rock concert to an incredibly famous grooming treatment, here are a few interesting facts about Rio de Janeiro.
Interesting facts about Rio de Janeiro
1. Rio de Janeiro is named after a made-up river
When Portuguese explorers “discovered” Rio in 1502, legend tells that they mistook the Guanabara Bay for the mouth of a river. They named the area Rio de Janeiro – River of January – despite the error. While historians continue to dispute this theory, no one has ever managed to come up with an alternative…
2. Rio de Janeiro hosted the biggest music concert of all time
Rod Stewart played to an estimated 3.5 million people on Copacabana Beach in 1994. That’s even more than the Rolling Stones, who mustered up a comparatively paltry 1.5 million at the same location in 2006.
The city has also hosted the world’s biggest-ever football match. The 1950 World Cup Final, played between Brazil and Uraguay, is still the highest attended match ever. On record, there were 173,850 spectators crammed into the Maracana Stadium, though unofficially there were thousands more. Brazil lost the match 2-1.
3. Rio de Janeiro boasts the world’s largest carnival
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Rio Carnival is the biggest in the world. In 2004, it attracted a record 400,000 tourists, in addition to at least five million people from Rio. The event kicks off 40 days before lent and sees people take over the streets to participate in street parties, known as “blocos”. You can also pay to watch the competitive parades, run by Rio’s best samba schools.
During Carnival, the mayor hands over the keys of the city to a jester. Known as King Momo, this legendary party animal runs the city for the duration of the festival.