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23 Brazil Landmarks I How Many Do you Know?

According to a travel quote by Brazilian designer Francisco Costa, “Brazil is not what you see, but what you feel.” This amazing country in South America is full of culture, history, delicious food, and vibrant, friendly people.

Brazil is the largest country in Latin America, and it borders nine countries including Colombia, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Being such a large and diverse country, there is an endless list of landmarks spread across the country.

From the more popular ones like the Christ the Redeemer Statue to unmissable architectural masterpieces and natural wonders, this list will take you through 23 landmarks that you should not miss.

Tip:  For more great South American travel inspiration, be sure to check out my guide on the perfect two-week Colombia itinerary.

Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls

23 Famous Brazil Landmarks

1. Christ the Redeemer Statue

Location: Rio de Janeiro

The Christ the Redeemer Statue is one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks in the world. The colossal statue of Jesus Christ sits 30 metres tall (98 feet) at the top of Mount Corcovado, in southeastern Rio.

christ the redeemer in rio brazil
christ the redeemer in rio brazil

The foundation of the statue was laid in 1922 to commemorate Brazil’s centennial anniversary of independence from Portugal. It took nine years to complete and became one of the first landmarks in Brazil.

Today the statue looks down on the city, serving as a protector for all who call Rio home.

2. Sugar Loaf Mountain

Location: Rio de Janeiro

The Sugar Loaf Mountain or Pao de Acucar in Portuguese is a peak that sits at the mouth of the Guanabara Bay that flows out into the Atlantic Ocean in Rio.

Sugar Loaf Mountain
Sugar Loaf Mountain

The peak rises 396 meters (1299 feet) above the bay, and can be seen from many corners of the city. It is said that Sugar Loaf Mountain got its name from the shape of a refined sugar loaf.

In 1912, a cable car system was installed on the mountain – which at the time was only the third cable car system in the world – taking visitors up to the summit of the mountain.

Once on top, visitors can enjoy the most gorgeous 360-degree views of the entire city. 

3. Copacabana Beach

Location: Rio de Janeiro

If you search for beaches in Brazil, the first thing that’s likely to pop up is a picture of Copacabana Beach with people spread across the beach sunbathing and sipping on drinks in coconuts.

Copacabana Beach
Copacabana Beach

Up until the late 19th century, Copacabana Beach was just a small fishing village covered with sand, dunes, and shrubs. Today it is a booming tourist attraction that lives up to its name of A Princesinha do Mar (Princess of the Sea).

Copa, as it is known by locals, stretches for 4 km (2.2 miles) and is lined with hotels, bars, restaurants, and street vendors. And the gorgeous Sugar Loaf Mountain looms in the background.

4. The Maracana Stadium

Location: Rio de Janeiro

Officially named the Estadio Mario Filho, the Maracana Stadium was built in 1948 as a flagship venue for the 1950 World Cup which was to be held in Brazil.

It is known as the Maracana Stadium because it is located in the Maracana neighbourhood in the northern part of Rio. It is the largest stadium in Brazil and the second-largest in South America.

Maracana Stadium
Maracana Stadium

Since being built, the stadium has hosted two world cups – in 1950 and 2014 – as well as the 2016 Olympic Games. It is currently the home ground of Brazilian soccer teams Flamengo and Fluminense.

When not in use, the stadium is open to visitors for a behind-the-scenes tour.

5. The Iguazu Falls

Location: Border of Brazil and Argentina

The Iguazu Falls make up one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural sights. This stunning series of waterfalls is situated along the Iguazu River which stretches across Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

The falls consist of 275 waterfalls spanning 2.7km (1.6 miles) in the Iguazu National Park. The Iguazu Falls is a towering 80 metres (262 feet), and the largest waterfall in the world.

Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls

Both sides of the falls have some pretty spectacular views, but it is believed that the Brazilian side has the best panoramic views of the semicircular falls.

The Iguazu Falls are so impressive that the former First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed, “My poor Niagara Falls!” upon seeing the falls during her visit.

6. The Amazon River

Location: northern Brazil.

This river is a freshwater system that extends 6400 km (4000 miles) across South America and flows through six countries, including Brazil. The Amazon River (Rio Amazonas in Portuguese) is the greatest river in South America

Amazon River
Amazon River

The river covers two-thirds of Brazil’s territory with the westernmost source starting in the Andes Mountains and flowing out into the Atlantic Ocean on the northeastern coast of Brazil. It also covers about 35.5 percent of the South American continent and shapes the lives of millions of people who live along it. 

7. Escadaria Selaron

Location: Rio de Janeiro 

One of Brazil’s best-loved attractions is the Seralon Steps which connect the streets of Joaquim Silva and Pinto Martins.

Escadaria Selaron
Escadaria Selaron

The stairs were a labour of love, a colourful work of art created by Chilean-born artist Jorge Serlalon. The artist covered the 215 steps next to his house with mosaics and dedicated it to the people of Brazil.

This is a must-see when visiting Rio, and you can opt for a guided tour of the steps or do some self-exploring.

8. The Museum of Tomorrow

Location: Rio de Janeiro

The Museu do Amanha( Museum of Tomorrow) is a super futuristic building located next to the waterfront at Pier Maua. While it may sound like the focus is on technology and science, it’s actually devoted to sustainability.

The Museum of Tomorrow opened in 2015. It explores the relationship between human living and nature and advocates the need for environmental change and sustainability.

Museum of Tomorrow
Museum of Tomorrow

This museum, with its cutting-edge architecture, was the brilliant creation of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. He was inspired by the bromeliads found in the Botanical Gardens in Rio.

9. Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum

Location: Niterói, Rio de Janeiro

The Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum is one of Brazil’s most iconic landmarks. This revolutionary building looks like a flying saucer that landed on the side of a cliff in Niteroi.

Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum
Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum

The museum sits in the scenic bay of Boa da Viagem with fabulous views of the city. The building was completed in 1996 and was designed by visionary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

The museum is spread across three floors with cutting-edge exhibitions and a hexagonal main hall.

10. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio

Location: Rio de Janeiro

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, also known as the New Cathedral, is a modern-looking cathedral located in Rio’s city center.

Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio
Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio

The cathedral was designed by Edgar de Oliveira da Fonseca and was based on the Mayan architectural style pyramids. This incredible building is a staggering 75 metres (246 feet) tall and can be seen from most parts of the city centre.

The space-age design features tilting windows, a basement museum, and ornate doors made from bronze plaques.

11. Octavio Frias De Oliveira Bridge

Location: São Paulo

The Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge, also known as the Ponte Estaiada, is a cable-stayed bridge that stretches over the Pinheiros River in the booming city of Sao Paulo.

The bridge is both an architectural and design masterpiece. It is the only bridge in the world that has two curved tracks supported by a single concrete mast. This unusual design makes it one of the most notable landmarks in Brazil.

Octavio Frias De Oliveira Bridge
Octavio Frias De Oliveira Bridge

The bridge measures 1600 metres (5200 feet) wide and extends 138 metres (453 feet) into the sky. It was built in 2008 and connects the highway of Marginal Pinheiros to the Jornalista Roberto Marinho Avenue.

The structure was initially considered an architectural failure but has since been recognised as a very distinct landmark of Sao Paulo.

12. Dedo de Deus (God’s Finger) Peak

Location: Serra do Mar, Rio de Janeiro State

The Serra dos Orgaos is a mountain range located in the central region of Rio. It sits in the Serra dos Orgaos National Park. One of the stand-out landmarks of this mountain is the Dedo de Deus or God’s Finger peak.

Dedo de Deus (God’s Finger) Peak
Dedo de Deus (God’s Finger) Peak

The peak is a mind-blowing 1692 metres (5551 feet) tall and is another one of Brazil’s stunning natural landmarks. The Dedo de Deus attracts nature lovers from all over the world.

It is a unique challenge for hikers, as its trails can often be wet and slippery, but this has not deterred avid mountain climbers, with thousands of people climbing the summit each year.

13. Teatro Amazonas

Location: Manaus

The Teatro Amazonas (The Amazon Theatre), is one of the most unique landmarks in Brazil. It is an opera house located in Manaus, a city in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest.

Teatro Amazonas
Teatro Amazonas

It is an opulent Renaissance Theatre that was built in 1897 and took almost 20 years to complete. No expense was spared when building the theatre with materials coming from France, Italy, and England.

Sadly, 12 years after the theatre opened it was forced to close down when the city of Manaus fell on hard times. It remained closed for more than 90 years until a major regeneration project was started in 2001.

Today the theatre has been restored to its former glory and is home to the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra.

14. Itamaraty Palace

Location: Brasilia

Itamaraty Palace is the work of architectural mastermind Oscar Niemeyer. This impressive building is the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brazil, which welcomes dignitaries from around the world.

Itamaraty Palace
Itamaraty Palace

The building was constructed using materials sourced only from Brazil and is a true work of art, built and designed by the very best artists and craftspeople in the country.

The building has an impressive art collection and unique features such as a modern spiral staircase.

15. Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia 

Location: Brasilia

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia is another work of art designed by Oscar Niemeyer, who is well known for his unconventional approach to architecture. The Cathedral serves as the Archdiocese for the Roman Catholic church in Brasilia.

Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia
Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia

The cathedral is a hyperboloid structure, constructed from 16 concrete columns which weigh 90 tons each. Its design represents symbolic hands stretching up toward heaven. It has a number of interesting features such as four 3 metre (9.8 feet) tall bronze structures of the four evangelists and four large bells.

It also features a glass roof and a 12-meter-wide reflecting pool that surrounds the roof, helping keep the cathedral cool. Visitors pass under the pool as they enter the cathedral.

This spectacular Brazilian landmark is one of the most-visited landmarks in the world, with around one million people passing through the doors of the cathedral each year.

16. The Altino Arantes Building

Location: São Paulo

The Altino Arantes Building is an impressive art deco building, located in Sao Paulo. It is referred to as Sao Paulo’s Empire State Building.

Altino Arantes Building
Altino Arantes Building

This 36-story building is a staggering 161 metres (528 feet) tall. It has an observation deck on the 34th floor with the best views of other landmarks in Sao Paulo. These include the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Edificio Italia skyscraper.

The building also has an art gallery that hosts various exhibits and the Simon Bolivar Auditorium where many Brazilian artists perform.

17. Mount Roraima

Location: Roraima State, Brazil

Mount Roraima is a mountain that forms part of the Pacaraima Mountain Range which sits at Brazil’s border with Venezuela and Guyana.

Mount Roraima
Mount Roraima

This is another one of Brazil’s stunning natural landmarks and is located in the remote northern region of Brazil. It is 2810 metres ( 9219 feet) tall with peaks that appear to be touching the sky.

The mountain is hard to get to, but those who are brave enough to make the journey are rewarded with stunning rocky landscapes and a unique view of all three countries.

18. The Lacerda Elevator 

Location: Salvador

The Lacerda Elevator is perhaps one of the most unusual landmarks in Brazil but is still impressive nonetheless. It is a public urban elevator located in the city of Salvador.

The 72-metre-high (236 feet) elevator connects the lower part of the city (Cidade Baixa) with the upper part of the city (Cidade Alta), as well as the old town and business centre.

Lacerda Elevator
Lacerda Elevator

This was the first elevator built in Brazil. It was constructed between 1869 and 1873.  It started off as a hydraulic elevator in its early days, and in 1906 it became the first elevator to be electrified.

The elevator has four lifts that are able to carry up to 27 people each on a 30-second ride, with amazing views of the All Saints Bay. In 2019 it transported more than 33 000 people per day.

19. Brazilian Congress Building

Location: Brasilia

The Brazilian Congress Building is another one of Oscar Niemeyer’s architectural masterpieces, which looks like something straight out of a sci-fi movie.

brazilian congress building
brazilian congress building

The building was constructed in 1964 and was designed to look like a set of scales. It has two towers that house parliamentary offices. It also has upward and downward-facing domes where the representatives of Brazil’s 26 states meet.

Visitors can take a free tour of this futuristic-looking building where you can learn about Brazil’s history and how its government works.

20. The Metropolitan Cathedral of São Paulo

Location: São Paulo

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Sao Paulo – also known as the Se Cathedral – is an impressive structure that serves as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sao Paulo. The cathedral was designed by German architect Maximilian Emil Hehl. It was one of the first churches built in the city.

Metropolitan Cathedral of São Paulo
Metropolitan Cathedral of São Paulo

The cathedral is a true masterpiece with many impressive elements. It is considered to be one of the biggest Neo-Gothic monuments in the world. It has a dome that is 30 metres (98 feet) tall and contains two spires which are each 92 metres (302 feet) tall.

The green dome was inspired by the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Florence. The stained glass windows portray biblical passages as well as historical events such as the arrival of the Portuguese in Brazil.

The interior of the cathedral is just as impressive as the outside and houses the largest pipe organ in Latin America with 12 000 pieces.

21. The Bandeiras Monument

Location: São Paulo

The Bandeiras Monument is a large-scale granite sculpture situated at the entrance of the Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo. It is the work of Italian-Brazilian sculptor Victor Brecheret.

Bandeiras Monument
Bandeiras Monument

The monument was commissioned by the government of Sao Paulo to honor the 17th-century Bandeiras, settling expeditions into the interior of Brazil and the people who participated in them.

The monument sits inside the impressive Ibirapuera Park, a green oasis in the city. There are other impressive attractions in the park such as the Ibirapuera Auditorium which is another futuristic creation designed by Oscar Niemeyer.

22. Lagoa Dos Patos

Location: Minas Gerais

The Lago Dos Patos, meaning Lake of Ducks, is Brazil’s largest lake and the second-largest lake in South America. It was named after the local tribe that inhabited the region around the lake.

Lagoa Dos Patos
Lagoa Dos Patos

The lake is 64 km (40 miles) wide in some places and 290 km (180 miles) long, making it another one of Brazil’s imposing natural landmarks. At the northernmost point of the lake sits a sand bar which is 32 km (20 miles) wide which separates the lake from the Atlantic Ocean.

Over the years, it has been shaped by winds and currents which have formed sandy beaches along the river banks.

23. Botanical Garden of Curitiba

Location: Curitiba

The Botanical Garden of Curitiba is a stunning manicured garden and park in the city of Curitiba which is the largest city in southern Brazil.

The garden was opened in 1991 and covers an area of 178 000 metres (18 hectares). It is a tranquil space in the busy city of Curitiba and features fountains, small waterfalls, and lakes. It also features an abundance of trees, plants, and colourful flowers.

Botanical Garden of Curitiba
Botanical Garden of Curitiba

This French-style garden also features an impressive glass greenhouse that resembles the mid-19th century Crystal Palace of London. The greenhouse has a collection of native flora and fauna from the moist Atlantic Forests of eastern Brazil.

In the evening, this small beautiful greenhouse is lit up with different coloured lights. The garden also has a botanical museum where visitors can learn about the different plants found in the garden.

Final Thoughts on Brazil Landmarks

It’s no secret that Brazil is home to a range of spectacular landmarks, and the ones mentioned above are just a snippet of all the landmarks waiting to be explored in this colourful South American country.

There are world-famous ones like the impressive Christ the Redeemer Statue, and the Maracana Stadium to lesser-known, but still equally impressive ones like the Teatro Amazonas.

And how could we forget countless natural landmarks such as the awe-inspiring Iguazu Falls in the more remote part of Brazil, and the Sugar Loaf Mountain in the heart of the vibrant city of Rio.

No matter what you’re into, there’s a landmark in Brazil waiting to be discovered by you.

Planning a trip to South America, but not sure where to go? Be sure to check out my 2 week Chile itinerary.

Copacabana Beach brazil landmarks
Copacabana Beach

I covered all of the costs associated with writing this article. However, this Brazil landmarks post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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