From Colonialism to Democracy: A Rio de Janeiro Audio Guide

Unlock the city's secrets over 250 years of architectural and societal growth
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1 at US$20
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Audio Guide Details
1 hour 15 minutes
Product Type
Audio Guide
  • Praça XV
  • Confeiteria Colombo
Preview From Colonialism to Democracy: A Rio de Janeiro Audio Guide
Start: Praça XV de Novembro
Towards Paco Imperial
Palácio Tiradentes
Photos & Highlights
Audio Guide Description
  • Put your map away as you walk through the history of Buenos Aires on your own schedule
  • Hit play together and stroll the city or wander solo, but always with an expert in your ear as your personal guide

Embark on an adventure through Rio de Janeiro on this self-guided audio tour with Context Travel expert and Brazil Cultural director, Javier Escuder. He'll help you understand Brazil's history from colonial times to its independence from Portugal, all the way through to the era when the country's dependence on slavery grew. As you explore the Castelo District, yo'‘ll see how historical events brought changes to the city‘s architecture, urban planning, and society.

Starting in the very square where it all began, Praça XV de Novembro, you'll find out how a city with a modest population grew into a bustling metropolis of over half a million by 1890. With Javier‘s help, you'll understand how the Portuguese monarchy sprinkled their magic dust and transformed this city into a vibrant tapestry of cultures. You'll travel back in time as Javier paints a picture of what Rio de Janeiro was like back in 1763 when it dawned as the colonial capital of Brazil. He'll point out elements of French Neoclassical architecture in buildings like the Casa França-Brasil Cultural Center, as well as Rococo, also called late Baroque art. As you make your way to the Federal Justice Cultural Center, where our tour ends, you'll learn about everything from the history of Carnival, to how the slavery and oppression of Black people precipitated a fight to preserve their culture.

On this audio guide tour of Rio de Janeiro, you'll:
• Learn about how João VI opened the ports of Brazil to countries like England, accelerating the city’s growth and commercial activity, as well as the slave trade
• Hear about Rio's economic evolution and the impact this had on its population
• Dive into Brazil's historical realities, from its dependence on slavery to the profound influence of African culture in the fight to preserve culture
• Walk the same streets as key historical figures in Brazil, such as Carmen Miranda, Afro-Brazilian sculptor Mestre Valentim, and Debret, the historical painter
• Visit the 21st most visited art museum in the world, the CCBB (Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil), boasting over 2 million visitors in 2014
• Get a sense of how the Portuguese transformed the small city through their commercial activity in the region, including the development of the coffee industry during the 1800s
• Gain a profound appreciation for the exuberant Rococo art style at Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Lapa dos Mercadores, or Our Lady of Lapa of the Merchants Church 
• Trace the architectural metamorphosis of the city, from Castle Hill to the stunning Municipal Theater, inspired by the Paris Opera

Unlock the secrets of Rio de Janeiro's urban development since 1763, when the city became the capital of the colony, and gain an understanding of Brazil's profound transformation in the last 250 years. Each step along this tour is guaranteed to give you a deeper insight into how Rio shifted from colonial times to the Republic, from its independence in 1822 to an era of global influence.

The starting point for the walking tour at Praça XV, is in front of the Paqueta boat station in the Guanabara bay.
Meet Your Expert

Javier combines the knowledge of an extensive scholar career with his large study abroad experience in both the university and the business sectors. He published books on Juan Goytisolo, Américo Castro, and Rosa Montero, as well as many articles in academic journals and newspapers on Spanish and Latin American literature, culture, and film. His last book, "Pierre Fatumbi Verger: United States of America 1934, 1937" was published in 2022 by Damiani and reviewed in the New Yorker online among other publications. Javier has presented papers and guest lectures in over 30 universities and international conferences and was appointed Spain's Consul of Education and Director of the Instituto Cervantes in Rio de Janeiro between 2001 and 2003. He has directed several university abroad programs in Spain, Mexico, and Brazil and has worked as a guest lecturer for Semester at Sea and as study leader for Smithsonian Journeys. Javier holds a PhD in Spanish and Latin American Literature.

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  3. Select Tour Codes from the menu, then select Enter Codes
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Is closed captioning (i.e. subtitles) available?
Yes! All of our audio guides have the option to turn on closed captioning should you have difficulty hearing the expert.

How long does each event last?
Our recorded audio guides typically run for 75 minutes.

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Absolutely! Gift cards can be purchased here. Gift cards are good for 365 days from the date of purchase.