Secret Rio   All eyes are on the 2016 Olympics now, but the real Rio de Janeiro has centuries of fantastic architecture and natural beauty that will inspire visitors to dig deep and find the best secrets the city has to offer. Secret Rio, by Jonglez Publishing is a pocket-sized guide to the off-beat, unusual and secrets mostly seen only by locals.

Rio is the second largest city in Brazil, and the perfect place where every traveler will find natural beauty, history, and spectacular architecture amid huge forests to explore.

Rio was home to the first World’s Fair after the 1914-1918 war, built on land reclaimed from the sea, and its treasures abound at every turn. The National Historical Museum and the United States Consulate still remain there, long after that first World’s Fair. What might you find there? If you visit the Historical Museum, past the main entrance you will see a terrace on the first floor. There you will see a spectacular library with ceilings painted by Carlos Oswald, who also decorated the Large Industries Pavilion at the 1922 International Exhibition. Try to spend a little time at Rio’s National Academy of Letters and the Biblioteca Nacional, which is one of the world’s largest libraries, with over nine million items.

Faced with such rich history to explore, consider taking a break from antiquity, and visit the amazing Caminho do Grafite. This graffiti-rich area is home to high quality urban art, comprising a permanent exhibition of over eighty murals. Take some time to explore over a mile of this fantastic artwork. There is also an art and education center in a former school building.

Wherever you turn, you are sure to be impressed with the city. Let Secret Rio guide you to culture and bring yourself back to earth by enjoying Brazilian music, and follow the Samba Train if you happen to visit in December. The Samba Train runs only on Samba Day, December 2nd, every year. Lastly, before your whirlwind Rio visit ends, spend some time at the deserted urban beaches. Follow the Transcarioca Trail for access to five beaches. Managed by the Grumari Municipal Natural Park they are maintained and kept clean by a volunteer group.  What a wonderful way to end your stay in Rio.
[First published in Blogcritics Magazine, Helen Gallagher.]

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