City center, Sightseeing

Arcos da Lapa – Lapa Arches

The Carioca Aqueduct, frequently called Arcos da Lapa (Arches of Lapa), is an aqueduct built in the middle of the 18th century to bring fresh water from the Carioca river to the population of the city. An impressive example of colonial architecture and engineering, the aqueduct is located in the center the city, in the Lapa neighborhood, the cradle of bohemian Rio.

It is considered one of the main symbols of the city and of great architectural importance for old Rio. It is built in Roman style and it is 17,2 meters high, 270 meters long and 42 monumental arches, connecting the Santa Teresa neighborhood with the Morro de Santo Antonio.

The construction of the first aqueduct was finished in 1723, but by 1744 it was already in bad shape and the construction of a more stable structure started and inaugurated in 1750. In colonial times, the water coming from the Carioca river and several other streams was driven through the aqueduct to several fountains in the city, such as the ones in Santo Antonio Square, Ajuda Square, and today’s Praça XV.

The aqueduct was deactivated at the end of the 19th century, as the city has developed new alternatives to supplying water. It was instead adapted to serve as a viaduct for the Bondinho de Santa Teresa tram line, connecting the city center with the Santa Teresa neighborhood.

bondinhoAll services were suspended in 2011, for indefinite time, due to an accident that left 5 people dead. However, a portion of the line, including across the viaduct, became serviced again in July 2015.

Combine the trip with a stop at the Colombo Bakery, a climb on the Escadaria Selaron and a ride on the Bondinho and you’ve got yourself a wonderful half a day planned in Rio!