Ipanema - The starting point of all the trends in Rio de Janeiro
When Carlos Jobim penned the lyrics for ‘Girl from Ipanema’ he had good reason to be inspired by the girls from Rio’s well known neighborhood. Ipanema can be called the pride of Rio de Janeiro, a neighborhood that reflects the fiery spirit of its residents and the Cariocas, to be precise. The word Ipanema literally means bad water in the Brazilian Indian dialect as it is bad for fishing. However, the neighborhood inherits its name from the José Antonio Moreira Filho, the Barão de Ipanema, an aristocrat who owned most of the neighborhood. Locals claim that it perfectly summarizes the best of Rio de Janeiro. The beach, the bustling nightlife, the restaurants, the cultural centers, museums and hotels make it a hotspot for both local and tourist activities. Ipanema is said to be the starting point of all the trends in the city, as this is the popular place for youngsters and athletes.
Ipanema plays an important role in the cultural scene as well. The presence of various major art galleries, universities, avant garde theaters and art movie theaters is ample testament to its cultural significance. Ipanema rose to fame thanks to the ode “Girl from Ipanema” by its famed residents Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes. Diana Krall’s song “Boy from Ipanema” once again brought Ipanema to the spotlight. This neighborhood is also known for its active gay communities and has a great appeal for tourists from around the globe. This is the perfect neighborhood to visit if you want to get the taste of the local way of life away from other tourist traps.
Everything is within walking distance as the streets are lined in a grid and the beach and the Lagoa can be used as references when you want to get around. Ipanema boasts of high quality restaurants, shops and cafes making it very popular among tourists and locals. The beaches are the highlight of the neighborhood and it attracts tons of people. In fact, it is so popular that on Sundays the roadways near the beach are closed to traffic due to the crowds that throng the area. Residents and tourists have the opportunity to use bikes, roller skates, skateboards and resort to good old fashioned walking to get around and soak in all that Ipanema has to offer. Ipanema is considered one of the safest neighborhoods in Rio. It is patrolled by more police than other areas since it is the second most affluent neighborhood in Rio after Leblon.
Around the neighborhood
Ipanema was founded in 1894. It consisted of 19 streets and two parks. However, with the introduction of street cars in 1902 the neighborhood started to grow on a rapid scale.
It is located between the neighborhoods of Leblon and Arpoador in the southern part of the city of Rio.
Ipanema is known for remaining one step ahead of the other neighborhoods in terms of trends. Ipanema is the birthplace of Bossa Nova. News in Ipanema is reported to make the headlines all over Brazil proving the area’s popularity. The Banda de Ipanema is the most famous example of Ipanema’s foothold over the region. A celebration among friends grew into a carnival parade that attracts visitors by the thousands. The beach is the most popular place in Ipanema so it’s no surprise that the neighborhood sets swimsuit trends. Its tradition of freedom and innovation is best seen in their swimwear. The first pregnant woman ever to flaunt a bikini was recorded in Ipanema. The Tangas, a line of bikinis famous for being skimpy also debuted here. Topless fashion was the next fad to be started here, but it didn’t last too long, it is forbidden to do topless at the beaches, either in Ipanema or any other beach in Rio. The dental floss or wedgy bikini also made its appearance here.
The Ipanema beach is the most popular place in Ipanema. Sunbathing, surfing and other beach activities are very popular among the locals and tourists. Beer and the more traditional cachaça is sold everywhere. Fitness is almost a religion in Ipanema which has state-of-the-art gyms, which offer demonstrations of capoeira. The streets are filled with people going about their own business. You can truly see the local flavor of the neighborhood at the beach. Males and females flaunting their bodies, families, young couples, people with dogs and tourists make up the crowd at the beach. Games like volleyball, beach soccer and foot volley are most popular. You can also catch live performances by bands that play various genres of music. Heading to the beach is truly an all-round experience.
The beach is divided into several sectors each of which attracts its own set of visitors. Posto 9 is the most famous spot frequently haunted by intellectuals including poets, artists and musicians. The area thus came to be known as the cool and alternative spot on the beach. The next famous spot is the gay section of the beach which lies east to Rua Farme de Amoedo. The other sectors of the beach are in front of Garcia D’Avila Street, Country Club (to the right of Posto 10 if you are looking to the ocean) and Cap Ferrat Building (# 564 of Vieira Souto Ave.), all of which have their own crowds.
Diamond Row – Garcia D’Ávila
The Diamond Row is a meeting point of jewelers located at Garcia D’Avila. It is the most fashionable street of Ipanema featuring shops with designer furniture, fashion, jewelers and branches of shops like Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Mont Blanc.The Amsterdam Sauer Museum of Gems is located on this street. You can also visit the headquarters of H.Stern which lies on the same street to see how a jewel is made from start to finish. Garcia D’Avila has good places to eat as well. There you will find Alessandro & Frederico Pizzeria, ¡Venga! Spanish Tapas, Delírio Tropical Brazilian food by kilograms and many others.
There are all kinds of shops along the streets of Ipanema. The main commercial street is the Visconde de Pirajá, a lane primarily meant for shoppers. The street features some of the best boutiques in Rio along with banks, bars, restaurants and travel agencies. The corners around Nossa Senhora da Paz Square concentrates the best fashion shops in Ipanema. Ipanema does not have a shopping mall but is full of relatively small, cozy and fashion galleries such as Quartier Ipanema, Forum Ipanema (both around the Nossa Senhora da Paz Square), Ipanema 2000, Galeria Top Center, with great range of shops and cafes.. The farmer’s market on Friday morning is another unique way to enjoy the routine of locals.
Nossa Senhora da Paz Square and Church
Nossa Senhora da Paz (Our Lady of Peace) Square is famous for its manicured lawns, art deco centerpieces and ponds with ducks. Many cast iron statues add to the ambience of the place. You can visit Ipanema’s Nossa Senhora da Paz Square for some relaxing after a tiring sightseeing trip or fun at the beach. This square is something you can enjoy as a family. Children can have fun in this park as they interact with other kids on the sand bank.
In front of Nossa Senhora da Paz Square is the one of the most famous churches in Brazil that impresses by its Gothic and Arabic architecture. It was build in the 1920′s as a request of the Canon Joaquim Soares de Oliveira Alvim, vicar of the chapel of Senhor do Bonfim in Copacabana, to alleviate the parish of Copacabana. Nossa Senhora da Paz became the patron saint of Ipanema after the end of the first World War in appreciation for world peace.
Rua Vinicius de Moraes
Ipanema is known for its abundance of cafes and restaurants which cater to every kind of budget. Some of the roadside cafes also offer internet facilities and operate as bookstores as well. The Rua Vinicius de Moraes is a historic street where Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes composed their legendary song “Girl from Ipanema”. The street hosts a lot of bars, shops and eateries which makes it worth a visit apart from its historical appeal.
Another local attraction is the Hippie Fair that happens every Sunday from 7 am to 7 pm. It is a great place to pick up some unique and quirky souvenirs, naïf paintings, wooden sculptures, handicrafts and exotic musical instruments. Ipanema’s role in the cultural scene of Rio is undeniable and the abundance of galleries is ample testament to that fact.
Exploring art galleries are the perfect way to explore the local culture. The two major galleries in this area are Bolsa de Arte is on Rua Prudente de Morais near Farme de Amoedo and Galeria de Ipanema is on Aníbal de Mendonça. Both galleries feature works by major Brazilian artists.
If you are in Rio then you know you are in the party capital of the world. For those of you who want to have a fun night out, Ipanema has the best to offer. You can start with dinner at one of the various restaurants then move on to the theaters or cafes to warm up. Then stroll along the Praça da Paz, Baixo Farme and Baixo Quitéria. You also have the option of watching a live performance or enjoy a relaxing drink at a beach Kiosk. If you are in the mood for some livelier entertainment then Ipanema does not disappoint party animals either. The neighborhood has plenty of trendy bars and nightclubs for you to dance the night away. There are special bars for the gay and lesbian crowd as well so you can choose whatever suits your style. These places are crowded during weekends and long queues are a common sight. Belmonte, located at General Osorio Square is one of the most famous bars. It is renowned for its cold draft beer, empadas and local pastries. The Baretto Londra bar caters to the higher end clientele. It is located at the Fasano Hotel and operates from Thursday to Sunday. Farme de Amoedo is among the most visited streets and subsequently its bars are always full.
To boogie to the Samba beats, Ipanema offers a host of nightclubs. Baronetti and Boox are the most popular among the young crowds. Dama de Ferro and W clubs are known for their alternative crowd and for being gay friendly.
Ipanema offers a variety of restaurants which cater to different cuisines and budget ranges. Almost every street hosts a good restaurant so you have plenty to choose from. For good food at affordable prices, Satyricon and Fasano al Mare are recommended. They are known some of the most spectacular seafood dishes in the neighborhood. Porcão in Ipanema is famous for its stake and other meat dishes. This restaurant also offers the traditional rodizio system so you can eat all you can for a fixed price. Gero is a restaurant renowned for its authentic home cooked meals. Galani, located in Caesar Park Hotel offers the best Brazilian Feijoada in the city.
The juice houses of Ipanema are as famous as its many attractions. They offer a variety of tropical drinks which you must try before you leave the city.
Where to Stay
Ipanema has a fair number of hotels which cater to a range of budgets. Fasano and Caesar Park are well known luxury hotels that have an impeccable reputation with tourists. The neighborhood is also home to a number of budget hotels which combine comfort and efficiency for the discerning traveler. Mercure, Best Western (Sol Ipanema) and Ipanema Plaza (Golden Tulip) are the best options for moderately priced hotels. For those travelling on a tighter budget there are cheaper hotels like Ipanema Inn and Arpoador Inn. Hostels are another option and the region has several of them which include Rio Hostel Ipanema, Ipanema Beach Hostel and Adventure House. These are preferred by younger backpackers due to the relaxed atmosphere and low prices.
Undoubtedly, Ipanema offers you a truly invigorating and different experience. So, do make it a point to visit the neighborhood no matter where in Rio you wish to spend your vacation.