By Vânia Maciel, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Over the next two weekends Santa Teresa’s pioneering Arte de Portas Abertas (Open Door Art) will take place, transforming much of the relatively calm neighborhood into a lively, pulsating art venue.  Now in its twentieth edition, once more the art studios are opening their doors, along with gigs, exhibitions, performing arts, and at its fringe, still more open studios, events and shops.

Helena Souto's Bottles
Bottles as created by Helena Souto, one of the artists involved in the Open Doors project, photo by Helena Souto.

Santa Teresa is a neighborhood like no other located at the heart of the ‘marvelous city’.  Nestled on a set of hills, it has breathtaking views of downtown and Guanabara Bay, plus a strange sense of time stood still. Beautiful villas from the turn of last century are dotted along leafy, winding cobbled streets, surrounded by verdant hillsides and overlooked by the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer statue), making it both unique and a magnet for artists of all persuasions.

During the Nineties, Santa Teresa had acquired a tainted image, and to lift the area’s profile, the first edition of the Open Doors event was created. Ceramics artist Helena Souto lives and works in one of its many antique villas, and has been taking part in the event since its conception.

Explaining to the Rio Times how it began, she said; “The sculptress Clara Arthaud, went to Cambridge, England to visit her daughter at the time of the city’s own Open Studio week and realized that it was the kind of event which would be good for Santa Teresa.  So in 1996, fifteen of us got together with N.G.O. Viva Santa (Hail Santa) and organized the event’s first edition”.

It was the first of its kind in Rio, and gave the opportunity for many Cariocas to rediscover Santa (as its residents like to call it), shaking off its tainted reputation. It was a huge success from the onset and in due course the original group grew to around eighty artists, and the rest, as they say, is history.  “The artists play a supporting role in the renewal of Santa Teresa’s profile and rescue of its cultural tradition, and it is also our aim to integrate art and public” she continued.

The daily hustle and bustle of Santa Teresa's main square will be replaced by art fans and artisans, photo by Doug Gray.

A good starting point is Largo dos Guimarães, where you will easily be able to find the event’s program and map, together with more general tourist information. It is also the neighborhood’s gastronomic hub, offering a wide variety of regional and international cuisine to choose from at reasonable prices. If you seek more sophistication, the Hotel Santa Teresa nearby, will not disappoint with a bar lounge and a restaurant overlooking the city and out towards Petrópolis’ mountain range.

Santa Teresa’s Artists Open Doors takes place on September 4th-5th and 11th-12th, offering a vast range of visual arts to enjoy across 39 art studios, thirteen cultural centers and the fringe. Opening times are 11AM to 6PM.

Also  worth a visit are the Museu da Chácara do Céu, Parque das Ruínas (Ruin’s Park) and Relais Solar.  You can reach the borough from Centro, taking a tram from Carioca’s Tram station just off Rua Senador Dantas or by buses nos 206 or 214 from Av. Nilo Peçanha, near the junction with Av. Rio Branco, also in Centro.


  1. A very well written and interesting article,in excellent English.. brings back memories of visits to Rio. Look forward to reading more articles by Miss Maciel


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here