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Brazil

Main attractions

Sunset at Iguazu Falls, from Brazil
Sunset at Iguazu Falls, from Brazil SF Brit / Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Brazil is enormous, diverse country with many amazing and unique attractions. Especially impressive are the diverse natural landmarks - many surprising geological monuments and areas with unique and endemic plants and animals. Few know it outside the country - but there are many beautiful historical cities. Many great monuments of architecture have been created in Brazil in the 20th century.

Below are listed some of the most amazing landmarks.

Natural landmarks

Brazil belongs to the largest countries of the world and most of the country is located in tropics. Thus it contains huge amount of very interesting geological and biological attractions including the largest rainforest in the world - Amazon Rainforest.

Rock formations

Diverse geology of Brazil has resulted in numerous very impressive rock formations met around the whole country. Below are listed some of the characteristic ones.

Itaimbezinho Canyon
Itaimbezinho Canyon / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Itaimbezinho Canyon – Rio Grande do Sul. Up to 720 m deep and 6 km long canyon with unbelievable, very impressive sights. Additional charm is added by exotic, tall araucarias.
  • Pedra da Gávea – Rio De Janeiro. Granite and gneiss dome rising 842 m above the sea level. World’s largest monolith on a coastline. The giant rock has some similarity to human face.
  • Sugarloaf Mountain – Rio De Janeiro. Impressive, rounded, 396 m high granite peak, one of the dominants in the landscape of Rio De Janeiro. Can be reached by a cable car.
  • Morro do Pico – Fernando de Noronha Islands, Pernambuco. Unusual, slanted peak rising from the ocean 321 m high.
  • Pedra Furada – Santa Catarina. Large natural arch – or rather a hole in rock with forest growing in it.
  • "Eye of the Lear" – Bahia. Enormous and impressive, some 45 m tall natural arch.

Caves and sinkholes

Lago Azul
Lago Azul / Renato Saboya, / CC BY 2.0
  • Abismo Guy Collet – Roraima. Deepest known quartzite cave in the world and by far the deepest in Brazil, explored up to 671 m depth.
  • Toca da Boa Vista – Bahia. Longest cave not only in Brazil but in the whole Southern Hemisphere. Thus far have been explored passages with a total length of 107 km, labyrinth contains beautiful cave formations.
  • Buraco das Arara – Goiás. Very impressive, 126 m deep sinkhole with lush tropical vegetation and several species of animals living on its bottom.
  • Serra do Ramalho – Bahia. System of several large caves with unique species of organisms including cave fish and the unusual arachnid Amblypygi.
  • Gruta do Lago Azul – Mato Grosso Do Sul. Unusually beautiful cave thanks to a deep, very large cave lake which is up to 70 m deep. In the morning the lake is illuminated by the Sun.
  • Gruta do Janelão, Peruaçu karst – Minas Gerais. Group of very impressive karst formations: underground river with 3 km long and up to 100 m wide and high passage. Includes two giant collapse dolines up to 170 m deep and several smaller ones. Includes one of the tallest stalagmites in the world – 28 m high.
  • Gruta dos Brejões – Bahia. Very impressive, 6.6 km long cave with 106 m high entrance. Passages are up to 150 m tall. Contains giant, unusual travertine terraces and ancient cave paintings.
  • Lago Azul – Goiás. Water-filed sinkhole, dived up to 274 m depth.

Waterfalls

Brazil is extremely rich with smaller waterfalls, often located in a beautiful jungle setting. On the border of Brazil is located one of the most impressive waterfalls of the world - Iguazu Falls. Unfortunately the most powerful falls of the world - Guaíra Falls (Salto de Sete Quedas) - have been flooded by Itaipu Dam.

Caracol Falls
Caracol Falls / Tiago Fioreze, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Iguazu Falls (Salto de Iguaçu) - Misiones, Argentina and Paraná, Brazil. One of the most enormous and most impressive waterfalls in the world, they are "only" 82 metres tall, but 2,700 metres wide.
  • Cachoeira da Fumaça (Fumaca Waterfall) – Bahia. Seasonal, 340 m tall waterfall with a single leap.
  • Caracol Falls – Rio Grande Do Sul. One of the most picturesque falls in Brazil. 131 m high falls with two cascades. Especially impressive is the second cascade - vertical plunge over an overhanging cliff.
  • Eldorado Falls (Aracá Falls) - Amazonas. A powerful, 353 m tall fall with a single plunge. Discovered recently, around 2000 AD.
  • Moconá Falls (Yucumã Falls) - Rio Grande do Sul and Argentina, Misiones. Unusual, very impressive waterfall on Uruguay River. This approximately 2 km long and up to 12 m tall waterfall is located in parallel to the flow direction of the river and ends in the middle of stream.

Ecosystems and rare species

The list below most certainly can be longer - Brazil belongs to most biodiverse countries of the world with multiple locations where unusual species of plants and animals are confined to a small area.

  • Sooretama Biological Reserve and Linhares Forest Reserve – Espirito Santo. The largest remaining area of North Eastern Atlantic forests. Area of this forest is approximately 50 000 ha, it is almost pristine and belongs to most biodiverse rainforests in the world with very high degree of endemism.
  • Golfinhos Bay – Fernando de Noronha Islands, Pernambuco. Unique site where almost every morning at 7:00 – 7:30 are observed 1000 – 1200 spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris (Gray, 1828)) coming to rest before leaving for ocean.
  • Lagoa Salgada - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Hypersaline lagoon with unique columnar carbonate stromatolites - natural formations made by 19 species of cyanobacteria.
  • Ilha da Queimada Grande - São Paulo. Island (43 ha in size) with an endemic snake – Golden Lancehead (Bothrops insularis). This is one of the most venomous snakes in the world – venom needs to be powerful in order to kill the only prey of snakes – birds.

Other natural landmarks

Lençóis Maranhenses with lagoon
Lençóis Maranhenses with lagoon / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Lençóis Maranhenses – Maranhão. Huge area covered with sweeping sand dunes, almost without vegetation. Abundant rain creates beautiful deep blue lagoons between the dunes with fish living there.
  • Mina da Batalha – Paraíba. Mine where the unique Paraíba tourmaline is found. This beautiful gemstone contains copper and thus is colored in amazing blue-green color not met in any other tourmaline in world (except in Nigeria).
  • Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago – small islands belonging to Pernambuco. The only location where the abyssal mantle is exposed above the sea level. It is also the second largest megamullion of the world – unique geological formation of seabed.
  • Rocas atoll – island, belongs to Rio Grande do Norte state, the only atoll in Southwestern Atlantic ocean and one of the smallest atolls in the world.

Man made landmarks

Brazil is rather rich with prehistoric monuments - richer than it was thought some decades ago. But the best known attractions have been created over the last centuries, since the start of colonization. Country has many interesting historical towns and buildings and amazing monuments of modern architecture.

Archaeological monuments

Brazil is quite rich with petroglyphs - they are located in many regions around the country with many new sites discovered in Amazon Rainforest and elsewhere.

Petroglyphs - symbols of Serra da Capivara
Petroglyphs - symbols of Serra da Capivara / Marco Del Fiol, / CC BY 2.0

Last decades have brought to attention the existance of several ancient developed cultures in Amazon basin. Marajoara Culture in Amazon delta was known earlier but since the development and spread of satellite imagery there have been found traces of densely populated and well organised cultures in Amazon basin (Geoglyphs of Acre). Most likely there will be made new amazing discoveries in future.

  • Serra da Capivara – Piauí. More than 300 archaeological sites with numerous, up to 26 – 22 thousand years old (Pedra Furada shelter) rock paintings of Nordeste and Agresete cultures. Controversial carbon dating shows that people here lived even 35 – 48 thousand years ago what contradicts the theories of human arrival in Americas.
  • Calçoene megalithic observatory - Amazon Stonehenge - Amapá. Pre-Columbian structure - a circle marked with 127 blocks of granite, stones are up to 3 metres high. Possible ancient observatory. Area contains numerous interesting megaliths.
  • Geoglyphs of Acre – Acre. In some clearcuts of the Amazonian rainforest mysterious signs on the soil have been noted – for most part these are hundreds of enormous squares and circles. These might be remnants of dense habitation of this seemingly virgin land.
  • Pedra Pintada - Roraima. Very impressive, overhanging, 35 m tall cliff with a cave which contains 11,200 years old petroglyphs.

Urban planning monuments

Plentiful natural resources of Brazil provided a background for the development of rich, beautiful cities in the 16th - 18th century. Later economical downturn helped to conserve them in unchanged style and today we can enjoy many authentic, beautiful historical cities.

Newly built capital of Brazil - Brasília - serves as a testimony to ambitions of Brazil to become significant power of the world.

Pelourinho - historic centre of Salvador de Bahia
Pelourinho - historic centre of Salvador de Bahia / José Luis Ruiz, / CC BY 2.0
  • Historic centre of Olinda – Pernambuco. One of the oldest cities in Brazil, established in 1537 and reconstructed in the late 17th century. One of the largest historical city centres in Brazil with more than 20 Baroque churches and convents.
  • Pelourinho (Historic centre of Salvador de Bahia) – Bahia. Large historic centre of the first capital of Brazil in 1549 – 1763, built on the upper side of a high cliff overlooking the Bay of Todos de Santos. Old city has retained its planning from the 16th century, contains numerous valuable historical buildings – churches, palaces.
  • Historic centre of São Luís – Maranhão. Well preserved, charming historic centre of town, which was established by French in the 17th century, invaded by Dutch and finally colonized by Portuguese. Town has unique local style of architecture, rich with decoration.
  • Historic Centre of Ouro Preto – Minas Gerais. Former colonial mining town, founded in the late 17th century and renovned due to beautiful Baroque architecture and well preserved historic centre.
  • Historic centre of Goiás Velho - Goiás. Monument of early Brazilian colonisation and mining from the 18th – 19th century. Goiás served as a development centre of indigenous urban planning and architecture of the interior of Brazil and is well preserved up to this day. Region contains several more well preserved historic cities.
  • Diamantina – Minas Gerais. Authentic town of diamond miners, built in the 18th and the early 19th centuries with numerous buildings in Brazilian Baroque style.
  • Brasília – Distrito Federal. Capital city of Brazil with unique planning from 1956 by Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer. City has expansive avenues, it is divided into functional sectors.

Churches

Cathedral of Brasília
Cathedral of Brasília - masterpiece of Oscar Niemeyer / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

In Brazil was developed specific trend of Baroque and Rococo styles - and this style is best represented in local churches. Splendour of these buildings is hard to beat.

The 20th century has been represented in local architecture with magnificent, elegant and innovative church buildings.

  • São Francisco Church and Convent in Salvador – Bahia. Baroque style church with exuberant interior, built in 1708 – 1755.
  • Church of Saint Francis of Assisi in Ouro Preto – Minas Gerais. Beautiful Rococo style cathedral, built in 1766 – the 19th century.
  • Santuario de Bom Jesus de Matosinhos in Congonhas and related buildings – Minas Gerais. Beautiful, ornate Rococo style church built in 1772.
  • Cathedral of Brasília – Distrito Federal. Unusual hyperboloid structure of 16 bent concrete columns with glass roof in between, built in 1970 according to the design of Oscar Niemeyer.
  • Rio De Janeiro Cathedral – Rio De Janeiro. Modernist building, built in 1974. 75 metres tall conical building, 96 metres in diameter, adorned with four 64 metres tall glassworks.

Other monuments of engineering, architecture and art

Niterói Contemporary Art Museum
Niterói Contemporary Art Museum / Piutus, / CC BY 2.0
  • Amazon Theatre – Manaus, Amazonas. Beautiful, enormous Ecclectic style opera house, built in 1885 – 1896. Developed in the jungle metropolis Manaus during the times of rubber boom, using expensive materials from the whole world.
  • Christ the Redeemer – Rio De Janeiro. One of the most iconic statues in the world, the largest Art Deco style sculpture in the world, built in 1922 – 1931. Statue itself is 39.6 m high but it is located on the top of another landmark – the 710 metres high granite peak - Corcovado mountain. This is the highest granite dome in Brazil. Magnificent sights of the Rio de Janeiro city open from the top of mountain.
  • Gustavo Capanema Palace – Rio De Janeiro. One the first large scale modernist buildings in the world, 15-floor government office building. Designed in 1935 – 1936, built in 1943.
  • Itaipu Dam – Paraná and Alto Paraná department, Paraguay. Largest hydropower plant of the world by the capacity of annual production of electricity, with installed capacity of generators – 14 GW. Dam is 7.7 km long and 196 m high and belongs to largest man-made structures in the world, built in 1984.
  • Juscelino Kubitschek bridge – Distrito Federal. Suspension bridge of unique design – with three assymetrical arches, total length 1200 m. Built in 2002.
  • Niterói Contemporary Art Museum – Niterói in Rio De Janeiro. Museum building of unique architecture similar to UFO, achievement of structural design. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, built in 1996.
  • Paço Imperial – Rio De Janeiro. Royal palace of Brazil, built in the middle of the 18th century. Initially served as seat of governors of Brazil, residence of kings and emperors of Brazil in 1808 – 1889. Built in Baroque style.

List of described attractions by states

Brazil is divided into 26 states and 1 federal district.

Federal district

Distrito Federal

States

Acre
Alagoas
Amapá
ArrowCalçoene megalithic observatory - Amazon StonehengeMegaliths
Amazonas
ArrowAbismo Guy ColletCaves
ArrowDesabamento FallsWaterfalls
ArrowEldorado FallsWaterfalls
Bahia
ArrowCachoeira da Fumaça (Fumaca Waterfall)Waterfalls
Ceará
Espírito Santo
Goiás
Maranhão
Mato Grosso
Mato Grosso do Sul
Minas Gerais
Pará
Paraíba
Paraná
ArrowIguazu FallsWaterfalls
Pernambuco
Piauí
Rio de Janeiro
Rio Grande do Norte
Rio Grande do Sul
ArrowCaracol FallsWaterfalls
ArrowMoconá Falls (Yucumã Falls)Waterfalls
Rondônia
Roraima
ArrowKurutuik FallsWaterfalls
ArrowOrinduik FallsWaterfalls
Santa Catarina
São Paulo
Sergipe
Tocantins

Map of Brazil

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