Morro da Urca

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Morro da Urca

9.6

Urca is a traditional and wealthy residential neighborhood with nearly 7,000 inhabitants (2000 census) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although most of the neighborhood 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, 1565. The French had arrived 12 years earlier and founded a settlement, called France Antarctique, close to what is now Flamengo and Gloria districts, in downtown Rio. The French, riven by internal disputes between Catholics and Protestants, were massacred by the Portuguese and their Indian allies in attacks organised from here, expelling them from the nearby Villegagnon Island (named after the French commander Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon). The street now called Rua São Sebastião, in Urca, which leads from behind the fort to the Urca casino, was originally a trail from the Portuguese fort skirting the edge of the sea to the mainland along the peninsula that houses the Sugar Loaf and a smaller hill, the Morro da Urca. Rua São Sebastião thus has some claim to be the oldest street in Rio.



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