13 Feb

rio de janeiro old picturesCopacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most famous beaches in the world. Everyone wants to visit it and everyone always falls in love with it. But it was not always like this. 

In the 19th century, people used to see Copacabana as an inhospitable and unhealthy sandy area. The only group of people who lived there were fishermen and their families. 

In 1892 the government built a tunnel — now Túnel Alaor Prata — connecting Copacabana and the city center of Rio. Following that, during the first years of the 20th century, a tram line was linking Copacabana to other neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. That was when people started to visit the south area of Rio, embracing the white sand, blue water, cool breeze and amazing weather of Copacabana Beach.

Curiosities about Copacabana Beach

Copacabana Beach promenade

copacabana beach 70sCopacabana Beach promenade is the most famous promenade in the world. It was first built in 1906 by Mayor Pereira Passos. He had the idea for its design inspired by Rocio’s Square in Lisbon. In fact, all stones used to built Copacabana’s promenade came from Portugal. The waves in the promenade were perpendicular to the sea by then. Years later, Mayor Paulo de Frontin’s administration decided to renovate the promenade, designing the curves in a way that it would follow the ocean’s flow. The promenade is 4km long, from Leme to Forte de Copacabana.

The golden sand of Copacabana Beach

The huge strip of sand bordering Copacabana Beach is not the result of a natural process. During the ’70s, a huge renovation was made in Copacabana and a large land reclamation increased the area of the beach. This was not only a good thing for beachgoers, but authorities were able to better organize the sewage system and control flood in the area.

Choosing the name for Copacabana

Copacabana was called Sacopenapã until the end of the 18th century. Only after the construction of Our Lady of Copacabana church, the neighborhood was officially called Copacabana. Sacopenapã in Tupi language means “path of birds”. Copacabana also has a cute nickname: Little Princess of the Sea (“Princesinha do Mar”).

Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s monument

carlos drummond de andrade copacabana beachCarlos Drummond de Andrade was a famous writer and poet from Brazil. A statue in Copacabana Beach pays homage to the poet and is a landmark in Rio de Janeiro. The bronze monument, located between Posto 5 and 6, portrays Drummond sat on a bench overlooking people passing by and the busy avenue in front of him. Lots of tourists sit by his side every day to take a picture.

The 2016 Summer Olympics

During the 2016 Summer Olympics, Copacabana Beach served as the venue for beach volleyball, triathlon, and open-water marathon swimming competitions. 

New Year’s Eve in Copacabana Beach

new years eve copacabana beachMore than 2 million people spend New Year’s Eve in Copacabana Beach every year. What makes this event so famous is the free concerts for the night, the amazing fireworks and the great vibe that gets everyone. Several screens are spread throughout the beach, making it possible for everyone to enjoy the event. People get together there to celebrate life and party all night long. Ten platforms placed at the sea are responsible for 15 minutes of non-stop fireworks, creating an amazing show in the sky.


Ipanema and Copacabana are sister neighborhoods. If you also want to learn more about the history of Ipanema, check this blog post.



Study Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Caminhos Language Centre offers the best Portuguese courses in Rio, together with free activities every day, student visa support and homestay in Rio de Janeiro.


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