Downtown Rio de Janeiro is marinated in Brazilian history. It was here that one of the first Portuguese expeditions to the Americas made landfall in Brazil. As we recounted in our Rio Part I post, these explorers were a little confused. When they sailed past Sugarloaf Mountain and entered Guanabara Bay in January 1502, they thought they were entering the mouth of a huge river. Hence the name Rio de Janeiro, River of January. Over the ensuing centuries, what is now downtown Rio de Janeiro was ground zero for the Portuguese Empire, a refuge for the Portuguese royal court, and Brazil’s capital city for almost 200 years following independence. Here are our favorite discoveries in downtown Rio de Janeiro and the historic district. Usual note: Photos are in galleries. Just click on the first one to see full versions of each. Downtown Rio de Janeiro Walking Tour We are huge fans…

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