Following the footsteps of Black Orpheus
Do you know the film Orfeu Negro by French director Marcel Camus, the winner of the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) in Cannes in 1959?
The story of Orpheus and Eurydice was filmed in Babilônia, one of the two favelas in Leme, Rio de Janeiro.
On the top of the hill you can still visit the ruin of the old signaling house that was turned into Orpheus’ house for the film. The view from there is breathtaking.
Orfeu Negro was not the only film shot in Babilônia, another price-winner was filmed there in 2006, Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad). It won the Golden Bear in Berlin in 2008.
Also the documentary Babilônia 2000 is, obviously, all about Babilônia.
The film Cidade dos Homens (City of Men) had many parts filmed in Babilônia and Chapéu Mangueira in 2007 and just in September 09 I met a film team doing a commercial for sandals in a studio in Babilônia.
The tour starts in the borough of Leme, next to Copacabana, and goes all the way up the Morro da Babilônia (Babylon Hill).
We will walk up the only street that leads into the favelas: the Ladeira Ary Barroso.
The walk continues in an easy pace through Babilônia, past the resident's association and the support school Tia Percília, and up the stairs until we are above the houses and surrounded by nature. The entire upper part of the hill is, today, covered by Atlantic Rainforest and a reforestation cooperative is taking care of the APA (area of environmental protection).
We carry on past a tree nursery, a couple of posts that were used by the military in the 19th and 20th century, and an old observation post from WWII, until we arrive on top of the hill where the ruin of the signaling house awaits us and a 360 degree panoramic view, including Copacabana, Christ the Redeemer, and the Sugar Loaf.
We will have a break to take pictures, relax, and to absorb the view.
The way down, leads through the community of Chapéu Mangueira the the exit is through the the staircase of Chapéu Mangueira (featuring in yet another film, O Primeiro Dia, Midnight) that gets us back down onto the street and into the official borough of Leme, one minute from the beach.
The tour is a walking tour and the meeting point is at the Avenida Princesa Isabel in front of the Windsor Atlantica hotel at the beach side.
Duration: 5 h
Level of difficulty: easy to moderate