Brazil’s most famous landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx, left his legacy all over the country and was known for creating some of the most beautiful park spaces in the city of Rio. His own home, the big estate that is today known as the Roberto Burle Marx Site (Sítio Roberto Burle Marx), is no exception and is undoubtedly one of his masterpieces. The property is a former banana plantation, which Marx bought together with his brother in 1949 and transformed into intricately designed gardens. Today, over twenty years after the owner’s death, it takes 18 gardeners to care for the 40 hectare property, despite the almost complete lack of flowers. This design choice was Marx’s signature, as he wanted to achieve aesthetic timelessness and avoid seasonal changes. Instead, grasses, layers of shrubs and palm trees create flowing transitions between varying shades of green, with the occasional bromeliad adding a pop of color.
The gardens aren’t the only highlight though. Inside Marx’s original farmhouse and studio, many of his paintings, furniture and sculptures are on display and show the creative force of a design genius. You see, the famous designer was never married or had children and instead, dedicated his life to tirelessly working on his art. Visitors can also walk through the big dining room, where Marx welcomed Rio’s art world and admire the music room.
Sitio Roberto Burle Marx can be found in the Barra de Guaratiba neighborhood in the west of Rio de Janeiro. Marx’s estate opens Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 1:30pm, but a reservation in advance is necessary.