Rio de Janeiro's iconic landscape, marked by soaring granite facades that drop into the ocean and white-sand beaches that go on for miles, is now an official world heritage site, the UNESCO announced Sunday.
According to UNESCO, the listed site consists of an exceptional urban setting rather than built heritage. It encompasses the key natural elements that have shaped and inspired the development of the city: from the highest points of the Tijuca National Park’s mountains down to the sea. They also include the Botanical Gardens, established in 1808, Corcovado Mountain with its celebrated statue of Christ and the hills around Guanabara Bay, including the extensive designed landscapes along Copacabana Bay which have contributed to the outdoor living culture of this spectacular city. Rio de Janeiro is also recognized for the artistic inspiration it has provided to musicians, landscapers and urbanists.
Rio has always been a fantastic travel destination, but expect tourist numbers to rise even faster in the next five years. 2014 will see the FIFA World Cup return to Brazil, and in 2016 the international spotlight will shine on Rio as it becomes the first South American city ever to host the Summer Olympics.
Good times ahead for the Cidade Maravilhosa!