Sítio Roberto Burle Marx
The Sítio Roberto Burle Marx is a residence plus gardens on a large plantation estate in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.
The most important works of the artist Robert Burle Marx are stored here. He was aligned with the Brazilian Modern Movement and mostly known for his design of modern tropical gardens. He lived at this site from 1949 on and did his botany and garden landscaping experiments here.
Map of Sítio Roberto Burle MarxLoad map
Isn't it lovely when you visit a tentative site, and it ends up inscribed years later? I visited Sitio Roberto Burle Marx back in 2017 while I was in Rio. It is well worth a half-day trip from the city and a good example of why WHS-based travel can be so rewarding -- it's a place I'd have never discovered had I not been looking at the lists (well, tentative lists at the time).
Burle Marx was a Brazilian landscape architect. The site consists of his house and gardens.
Logistics: I emailed the site to schedule a visit in advance and took an Uber from Barra da Tijuca, where I was staying (about a half hour); I had no issues calling an Uber for the return trip. I was able to get on an English-language tour, which I believe they had several of each week. Overall, this is a quick and easy site if you're already in Rio.
Site visited in March 2020. As Walter described all the aspects of the site I would focus more on practical issues.
It is a nice place, fully deserved to be on the list. Currently working hours of the place are quite difficult for visitors. It is not open on holidays nor on Sundays (Mondays either but that is more understandable). All individual visits have to be arranged in advance and there is only one English-speaking guide on the place. You can arrange the visit through their website:
Official leaflet says that the visits can take place only twice a day - at 9.30 and at 13.30 - tours up to 35 people but during my visit there were other groups that started a bit later than 9.30. Visit costs 10 R$, paid by cash only. Have in mind that Sitio is similar to any other botanical garden with its ponds and water so there are plenty of mosqitos (and other flying and biting creatures) there - be prepared with appropriate repelent.
It is possible to reach the place by public transport. The best way to get to the Sítio from central Riois to take the subway line until "Jardim Oceanico" station, and them take the "Rapid Transit Bus" (BRT in portuguese) until "Ilha de Guaratiba" station. After that, in Ilha de Guaratiba Station you can take another bus that leave you at the gates of the Sítio.
Another option is from Jardim Oceanico station, you can take the BRT until "Recreio Shopping" station and then take an Uber to the Sítio or take Uber from any other place in Rio.
As Sitio is located less than 2 km from Ilha de Guaratiba station you can also walk from there (which I did). As I stayed in the hotel located close to Avenida das Americas (at Barra da Tijuca) I took the bus until Recreio Shopping (do not confuse with Terminal Recreio) and than changed for normal bus going to Terminal Santa Cruz - take normal bus - not express bus as express ones are not servicing all bus stops. From Ilha de Guaratiba go south on Estr. Roberto Burle Marx, the site will be on the left after some 20 minutes of walking. From Ilha de Guaratiba there are brown road signs to Sitio Roberto Burle Marx.
Allow at least 2 - 2,5 hours to get to the Sitio from central Rio, it is quite far and some two - three to visit the place.
About 40 km west of Rio de Janeiro center, this site is a botanical park and museum dedicated to Roberto Burle Marx, a famous Brazilian landscape architect and avid collectors of plants and trees. Along with Oscar Niemeyer, Burle Marx achieved several modernist projects in Brazil, some already inscribed on the World Heritage Site: Pampulha Modern Ensemble in Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro (specifically for Copacabana pavements and Flamingo Park) along with the Palais de la Culture in Rio, which is on the TL.
It is planned for inscription for 2020.
In 1949 Burle Marx and his brother bought this banana plantation and slowly transformed the property into an extraordinary botanical landscape with an impressive collection of tropical and subtropical plants. He built a small house with contemporary features, and lived there from 1973 to his death in 1994. Several other buildings dot the park: a 17th century renovated chapel, a visitor’s center designed by Burle Marx when he donated the park to the Brazilian state, and a “atelier” in which he planned to teach, but never had a chance to. Nowadays lectures and concerts are held in this last building.
His house now displays an emotional tribute to the artist, with personal objects (his bed, with his glasses and shoes, his piano), his work (statues, paintings, drawings, tapestries, textiles, murals) and his collections (pre-Colombian ceramics, catholic religious artifacts, shells and fossils).
The most interesting part if of course the garden, with more than 3000 species of cultivated plants. It takes about an hour and a half to walk around the park. Plants and trees are of all size, colors and smells. It mixes native vegetation and the huge collection of indigenous tropical plants from Brazil. All plants have been planted to form an interesting landscape, with pounds, reflecting pools and artificial waterfalls.
Visit is by guided tour only (closed Sundays and Mondays, 35 people on each tour), and need to be previously scheduled (by phone) and costs 10 R$. It lies an hour drive from Rio center, about 40 km west, and is accessible by public transport.
Not wanting to venture far out of the city center by myself on public transport, I went in a guided tour from my hotel, reserving it on the internet. I was very lucky, because I ended up with a private tour, on a Sunday, with only three of us, being driven to the sitio, and having a biologist-guide to show us around (three people instead of a 35 people usual tour). Of course, this option is more expensive but I found it really worth its costs (btw the guided tour was on www.wowtour.com.br or by what'app +55 21 99135-1648).
I would recommend a visit to this very nice place, and I believe it has a good chance at inscription.
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