The Cosme Velho neighborhood is best known as the jumping-off point to ascend Corcovado Mountain to Christ the Redeemer. Most visitors to Rio will set foot in this small, historic area on their way to the city’s most iconic attraction, but it’s worth it to explore beyond that. From shady plazas overgrown with jungle to colonial architecture, Cosme Velho offers a taste of Rio’s old-time charm. The neighborhood’s principal street, Rua Cosme Velho, snakes up into the hilly area and to ‘Estação de Ferro do Corcovado,’ where visitors catch the funicular to the Christ Statue. Beyond the station, the neighborhood becomes mostly residential and continues way up the hill into the rain forest.
While in Cosme Velho, before or after seeing the Christ, allot some time to roam the winding, leafy avenues with quaint shops, or grab something to eat in one of the many open-air cafes. Just across the street and a few yards up from the funicular station lies Boticário Square (Largo do Boticário). This plaza of early 19th-century Portuguese buildings has fallen into disrepair, but the brightly colored colonial structures set among the rain forest scenery retain the square’s original charm. Art-lovers can head to the International Museum of Naïf Art just down the road from the station, where they’ll find a small colonial-era building housing an impressive collection of 6,000 paintings from 120 different countries, which focus on struggle and marginalized populations.