Imperial City of Niteroi

Niterói – former capital of Rio de Janeiro State. Here, the Brazilian tribe Temininó helped the Portuguese to defeat the French in the XVI century. Because of the victory, the King of Portugal granted to Cacique Arariboya, head of the Temininó, the sesmaria (land property) of Nichteroy (meaning “hidden waters” in Tupi language). In 1819, Dom João fell in love with the city and elevated it to the rank of “Royal Villa of Praia Grande” and, in 1835, Dom Pedro II´s Regency elevated it to the rank of Imperial City of Nichteroy.

It was the RJ Province’s capital and remained so until 1975, when Rio became the capital of RJ State.

9:00 – Meeting at Marina da Glória.

The best is to get there by taxi.

9:30 – Departure on a schooner tour around the Guanabara Bay

10:30 – Arriving at the Fortress of The Holy Cross (Fortaleza de Santa Cruz),

the biggest and oldest military fort in the Bay.

In 1555, Guanabara Bay was administered by a French Governor, called Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon (1510-1571). He built a little fort to defend “France Antartique”. Taken by Mem de Sá (1500-1572) in 1567, this fortification was expanded into the key point for the defence of Guanabara Bay. Santa Cruz is the most important historical monument in Niteroi — with dungeons, fortifications, execution sites and gun batteries.

This XVI century landmark is situated on a promontory from where one spots a fine view of the entrance of Guanabara Bay and the famous Sugar Loaf. Tour guides use to show the Chapel of Saint Barbara, whose statue was destined to another military establishment in Rio de Janeiro. All attempts to move the statue were accompanied by great storms, which were taken as a sign to leave her at the fortress.

12:00 – Lunch at ZEFIRO restaurant,

specialised in seafood but with a varied menu, inside the Fortress, after a nice walking.

13:00-  Passing by São Francisco,

an ancient settlement of the Jesuit Order for catechism of the Indians. The church of Saint Francis Xavier is from the beginning of the XVII century.

13:15 – Visiting Niteroi´s City Park

and admiring the splendid view of all Guanabara Bay and its cities.

13:45 – Going to Santa Rosa to visit the Salesian Order mother-house in Brazil,

its Basilica Our Lady Help of Christians. The Salesian priests came to Brazil because of arrangements through letters between Saint Giovanni Bosco and Dona Isabel, in 1883. They built their Basilica in the 1950’s; its organ is the biggest in Latin America.

The titular organist of the Basilica is Father Marcello Martiniano Ferreira SDB, a honorary member of IDII who is considered one of the greatest present Brazilian erudite musicians. He is doctor of Musicology by Sorbonne and Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Rome).

14:30 – Seeing Icarai and Inga beaches

and going to the Contemporary Art Museum of Niteroi, in Boa Viagem.

14:45- Passing in front of the Brotherhood of Saint Vincent de Paul. The church,

the school and the offices of the Brotherhood were founded by Belarmino Ricardo de Siqueira (1791-1873), the Baron of São Gonçalo — São Gonçalo is the neighbouring city of Niteroi — and

15:00 – Arriving at Niteroi´s Contemporary Art Museum via Niteroi´s seacoast,

in the Oscar Niemeyer Way, which is compounded of the great architectonical works of the Brazilian most famous architect.

The museum projects itself over Boa Viagem (“Bon Voyage,” “Good Journey”), the 817-square meter reflecting pool that surrounds the cylindrical base “like a flower,” in the words of Niemeyer. A wide access ramp leads to a Hall of Expositions, which has a capacity for sixty people. Two doors lead to the viewing gallery, through which can be seen the Guanabara Bay, and Sugarloaf Mountain. The saucer-shaped modernist structure, which has been likened to a UFO, is set on a cliffside, at the bottom of which is a beach.

16:00 – Getting to know downtown and visiting the Municipal Theatre of Niteroi,

the first one in Brazil, planned by the father of the Brazilian dramaturgy, João Caetano dos Santos (1808-1863) and built as “Theatro Santa Thereza”, in 1842, honouring D. Thereza Christina, in the very street called “Rua da Imperatriz” (Empress´ Street).

16:30 – Return to Rio by the Rio-Niteroi Bridge

— officially President Costa e Silva bridge — the biggest of Latin America, inaugurated in 1974 when Rio de Janeiro and Niteroi cities became part of just only one State symbolizing the unification of metropolitan region.

The beginnings of the bridge’s construction occurred in the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh (9 November 1968).

17:00 – End of Imperial City of Niteroi.

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