Travel & Places Brazil

A Piece of Rio History Near Corcovado Mountain

Largo do Boticário, one of Rio de Janeiro's quaintest cul-de-sacs, attracts international tourists with its 19th-century homes and surrounding rainforest, despite signs of neglect.

One of the historical constructions in this secluded spot near the Corcovado is Casa Rosa (the Pink House), a 1920s mansion once renovated by architect Lucio Costa, which is now threatened by decay and used by homeless people.

The Carioca River, which crosses the area, is polluted. Neighborhood associations have called for preservation of what could be one of Rio's finest historical attractions (watch a video).

An exception to the Largo's general state of abandonment is Casa 32, a boutique hotel which belonged to Rodolfo da Siqueira (Rudy), an artist and antique collector, and to socialite Magu Leão.

Largo do Boticário first took shape in the 1870s, after a large chácara belonging to Portuguese store owner Cosme Velho Pereira was subdivided into lots and bought up by nobles.

While Cosme Velho lent his name to the district, Largo do Boticário was named after an apothecary. Several properties in the Largo, including Casa Rosa, belonged to media mogul Paulo Bittencourt, owner of Correio da Manhã, and his wife Sylvia.

Among the preservation ideas recently discussed for Largo do Boticário - and which would depend on private sponsorship as well as on public resources - is the restoration of Casa Rosa and its use for cultural events.

How to Get to Largo do Boticário

The Largo is at Rua Cosme Velho 822. To get there, take one of the buses that go to the Corcovado, such as the 584, and get off at the first stop after the Corcovado. Or walk to the Largo after visiting the Corcovado and the International Museum of Naive Art of Brazil.

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