5 unusual fun facts about Rio
We are very happy to announce that again this year on February 18th-20th 2022 our popular Big Rio Run will take place with participants from all over the world. Everyone knows the famous Jesus statue and the carnival in Rio, but we have a few facts for you around this colorful instead of everyone knows:
Fun Fact #1: Rio was named after a river that doesn't exist
According to tradition, the place now called Rio de Janeiro was first visited in January 1502 by Portuguese explorers who believed that the ocean bay they came across (now called Guanabara Bay) was the mouth of a river. In fact, however, there is no river there at all.
Fun Fact #2: Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Portugal for seven years
From 1808 to 1822, Rio also served as the center for the exiled Portuguese royal court, then fleeing Napoleon's invasion. Prince Regent Dom João VI arrived in 1808 with the rest of the royal family - the first time a European monarch set foot in the Americas. In December 1815, Dom João made Rio the official capital of the Portuguese Empire, which it remained until Brazil gained independence from Portugal in September 1822.
Fun Fact #3: The famous Jesus statue is struck by lightning several times a year
Brazil's location near the equator makes it an active area for lightning. In fact, the statue, completed in 1931, is directly struck by lightning two to four times a year. A system of lightning rods inside the statue is designed to ground the electricity, but it is not always effective. For example, a few years ago lightning broke off a piece of the statue's right thumb and damaged the head.
Fun Fact #4: Five days a year, the city is ruled by a mythical jester named King Momo
Rio explodes with energy and color in the five days leading up to Ash Wednesday, when millions of people take to the streets for the world's largest carnival. The party begins on Friday, when the mayor hands over the keys to the city to a man crowned as King Momo, a mythical jester who presides over the festivities. The party reaches its climax at the Sambódromo, when the best samba schools in the country compete for the first prize. The results are announced on Ash Wednesday, when Carnival is officially over and King Momo goes home.
Fun Fact #5: Rio de Janeiro is a paradise for graffiti artists
In 2014, Rio de Janeiro legalized street art on many city-owned properties, turning the already colorful city into an outdoor art gallery. Street artists are allowed to decorate columns, walls and sidings, as long as they are not protected monuments. The city has even set up a quasi-governmental agency, Eixo Rio, to regulate urban artists and celebrates an official Graffiti Day on March 27, the anniversary of the death of Brazilian graffiti pioneer Vallauri Alex in 1987.
Maybe we've inspired you to run for your wonderful Rio medal: