Today Cariocas are celebrating the 447th birthday of Cidade Maravilhosa, but first a recap of Rio’s history.
On January 1, 1502 Portuguese explores first encountered Rio’s beaches, and two months later, on March 1, the Portuguese officially founded the city of Rio de Janeiro.
In 1763, Rio became Brazil’s capital. By that time, Rio had become a bustling port city, and the Portuguese moved their colonial administration there from Salvador, Bahia in order to be closer to the gold coming out of mines in Minas Gerais. Rio remained the capital of Brazil for nearly two centuries, through the end of the Portuguese colonial era in 1822 and well into the country’s independence as a nation. Only in 1960 was Brazil’s capital moved to Brasília.
The demotion from national to state capital didn’t hurt the pride residents of Rio have for their city. Today they are celebrating with public programs that include dances, concerts, and a giant birthday cake measuring a symbolic 44m x 70cm. There will also be a ceremony atop the Corcovado mountain to honor actress Fernanda Montenegro who won the title of A Mais Carioca do Rio.