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Rio awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status

Rio de Janeiro became the first city to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status on Sunday 1 July 2012. The award was granted, the committee said, due to the stunning natural features that provide Rio with perhaps the most exotic landscape of any major city. Rio has so many breathtaking views that many of them are not so well known. The world famous landmarks include the Corcovado Mountain, which is topped by the statue of Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain which can be reached by cable car or a climb up the granite rock and the stretches of sand that make up Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches.

The UNESCO committee made special mention of some of Rio's slightly less famous places such as the Tijuca Forest. The largest urban forest in the world contains Corcovado but also the highest peak in the city, Tijuca Peak, with a trail to the top that is less well visited than Corcovado but has panoramic views that are just as impressive. The city's Botanical Gardens nestling in the shadow of the statue, were also commended for their beauty. The gardens lie close to the shores of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, which would probably be a major feature of most other cities. The lagoon and beaches contribute greatly to the outdoor culture of the Carioca residents of Rio, which was honoured by the committee as a defining characteristic of the city.

Guanabara Bay was the final place mentioned, although with the monoliths of Pedra da Gavea and the Two Brothers, there were still more stunning contributors to the landscape of Rio that deserved to be included.

The cultural side of Rio was also prominent, as 'Rio de Janeiro is also recognised for the artistic inspiration it has provided to musicians, landscapers and urbanists' according to UNESCO. This boost to the city also gives the world a nudge as Rio prepares to host two of the largest events on earth in this coming decade. The 2014 World Cup will be held in Brazil, with the final in the newly modernised Maracana Stadium (Brazil lost the 1950 final match there to Uruguay). Two years later, the 2016 Olympic Games will bring visitors from all over the world to see exactly why UNESCO have designated Rio de Janeiro as a World Heritage Site.
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