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Introducing Santa Teresa & Lapa

Icons of bohemian Rio, Santa Teresa and Lapa are two rough-and-tumble neighborhoods that have contributed considerably to the city's artistic and musical heritage. On a hill overlooking the city, Santa Teresa has an impressive collection of 19th-century mansions set along winding lanes. Many beautiful colonial homes stretch skyward, their manicured gardens hidden behind gabled fences.

Today, Santa Teresa is a buzzword for a vibrant arts scene. Throughout the year, impromptu festivals and street parties fill the air, ranging from maracatu drumming along Rua Joaquim Murtinho to live jazz at the Parque das Ruínas, to the annual Portas Abertas event, where dozens of artists open their studios and cover the streets with living installations.

The streets of Lapa lie down the hill from Santa Teresa and south of Cinelândia. Formerly a residential neighborhood of the wealthy, Lapa became a red-light district in the 1930s. Although it is still a derelict area, it's also one of the music capitals of Brazil. At night, revelers from all over the city mingle among its samba clubs and music-filled bars. The music scene has brought some gentrification to the area, including new restaurants and hostels.

Lapa's landmark aqueduct, Arcos da Lapa, is one of the neighborhood's most prominent features. Coursing over the 64m-high structure are narrow tracks that once carried the bonde (tram) to and from Santa Teresa.