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Ipacom Travel - Travel Services in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  
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Home » Citytours & Maps » All About Guanabara Bay
Photo by Silviano for All rights reserved | Todos os direitos reservados This photo is digitally watermarked and tracked. Copies are strictly forbidden. Property of

Brazil was discovered by the Portuguese in the year of 1500. The king of Portugal, Dom Manuel I, sent a naval expedition to explore the new land. They arrived at Guanabara Bay on January 1, 1502. The Portuguese mistook the large bay for the mouth of a river (rio), and this is how the city earned its name - Rio de Janeiro.

One of Rio's most famous postcards is the view of the Sugarloaf and the Guanabara Bay, but this is just a small portion of it. It extends for 16 miles inland, with a width of up to 15 miles. The Bay is surrounded by historical attractions, dotted by islands, and the two largest cities in the State of Rio - Niteroi is just across the bridge.

If you come to Rio, one way or another you will run into Guanabara Bay. It is one of the prettiest sights, and it can be seen from both the city's most popular tourist attractions: The Sugarloaf and Corcovado Hill.

Tour operators offer you a chance to visit Guanabara Bay by boat or yacht, day or night. You may also take on your own the ferries to Niteroi or the Island of Paquetá (rent a bike once you get there).


Located on the Niteroi side of the Bay, the fortress was built in the spot where Villegaignon originally set quarters, in 1555. Then came the battle for power, the Portuguese fought against the French, and Estácio de Sá set the first foundations. Salvador de Sá made some improvements, and named it Bateria da Nossa Senhora da Guia. It was renamed Fortress of Santa Cruz only in 1632.

Another contribution of Estácio de Sá, the construction started in 1565. The Fort was officially inaugurated in 1618, and it is still used by the army. The schools of Physical Education, Research and Development, and the Superior School of War are all stationed here.

This is the island with the beautiful neo-gothic castle you see near Santos Dumont Airport. The story behind it is romantic and tragic, as this was the setting for the Last Imperial Ball. The gala event promoted by the Viscount of Ouro Preto happened in 9 November 1889, just a few days before the Republic was proclaimed - and the Emperor and family were requested to leave the country.

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