This lake is a huge open space in the middle of Rio de Janeiro, offering fantastic views of the Ipanema skyline, Corcovado and the Christ the Redeemer statue. At the weekend, visitors can join the city's residents for a stroll or cycle on the 8km (5-mile) path that surrounds it or enjoy the nearby parks, exercise stations and leisure facilities. Visitors can join families on the lake and hire one of the swan-shaped pedaloes. Nearby is the Jardim Botânico, a landscaped garden containing over 8,000 Brazilian and imported species of flora. In the evening, the lakeside remains lively, as people dine at one of the many kiosks, each serving regional and international food. Some also provide live music for entertainment.
Urca is a traditional and wealthy residential neighborhood with nearly 7,000 inhabitants in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although most of the neighbourhood dates from the 1920s, parts of it are much older. What is now called the Forte São João, a military base at the foot of the Sugarloaf Mountain, is where the first Portuguese settlement in Rio was founded by Estácio de Sá on March 1. 1567.
The neighbourhood's origin as a 1920s urban development is evident in any stroll. Photos of the area on the 1930s show lots divided up, a low sea wall, individual houses and the trees so characteristic of the area now mere saplings. It is perhaps second only to Santa Tereza as a carioca urban neighbourhood in its pleasantness, architectural unity and lack of the crass development which has scarred so much of the city. Part of this is explained by the neighbourhood's insularity. The developers of Urca made their money by dividing up the neighbourhood into lots and selling them to small investors, many of them recent European immigrants, especially Portuguese, of relatively modest means - the richer middle class headed for the more glamorous neighbourhoods of Copacabana and Leme, the other side of Praia Vermelha beach. The heavy military presence around Urca in the coup-prone 1920s must also have been a disincentive for those with money to afford a beach house elsewhere. Many of the present inhabitants of Urca are the descendants of families who bought houses or plots when the area was originally developed. It still preserves a tight-knit, family feel.