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Bonde - Bondinho

Bonde - Bondinho (64)

Unfortunately, in August 2011, lack of system maintenance caused a serious accident, leaving six dead and 50 injured; thus, the service of the famous bondinho was suspended, hence depriving us for years of the most sought image by visitors and the most longed-for one by the residents of the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighbourhoods.

Fortunately, the hosting of the World Football Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio were the catalyst for the city of Rio de Janeiro to undergo important improvement and modernisation works. Of course, the recovery of the bondinho of Santa Teresa was one of the objectives, and now locals and visitors can enjoy it again.  

The new bondinho, although more modern and safer, is equally charming.

To ensure passenger safety, people are not allowed to stand, and seating is offered for 32 people maximum. 

This mythical means of transportation, which has linked for decades the centre of Rio with the Santa Teresa neighbourhood nestled atop a hill, has been and will remain a key element of the city's history and tradition.

In fact, the tradition of trams in Rio began in the 19th century, on 30 January 1859 to be more precise, when the first car, at that time pulled by animals, hit the streets experimentally thanks to the initiative of Scottish doctor, Thomas Cochrane. Shortly afterwards, on 26 March, Emperor Pedro II presided over the inauguration of the regular service of the first tram in Rio de Janeiro, whose route covered the area of Cidade Nova. These first trams, which were pulled by donkeys, featured seating for 16 people.

From that moment on, a rapid expansion of bondinho lines around the city occurred and, somehow, this greatly influenced the way in which it was organised.

In 1892, the first electric tram arrived in Rio de Janeiro and, shortly afterwards, in 1896, the bondinho of Santa Teresa started to operate and won the hearts of its inhabitants from the very first moment, thus becoming a symbol of the neighbourhood. The line started from the Praça XV toward the Largo do Guimarães, through the Rua do Aqueduto (currently, Almirante Alexandrino), hence turning it into a unique route, since it circulated above the Arcos da Lapa (following what was once the path of water from the aqueduct), and offering its passengers amazing views of the city.

During the first decades of the 20th century, all trams, not only the famous bondinho of Santa Teresa, were part of Rio's landscape and even served as inspiration for artistic creations, such as the samba song "O Bonde São Januário", which was written in 1937 by Ataulfo Alves and was successful during the carnival of that year.

From 1940, buses became more popular as a faster alternative that would be easier to expand throughout the city, causing a gradual decline and dismantling of trams. The only line that managed to survive was that of the bondinho of Santa Teresa, partly because its design facilitated access to the neighbourhood much better and partly because it had become one of Rio's tourist attractions.

The good news is that the new bondinho of Santa Teresa expands its 7 km route to 10.5 km, and you can still enjoy this means of transportation, which is so deeply linked to Rio's history and tradition.

The new design, although more modern and secure, has not lost one iota of the charm of the traditional yellow trams circulating throughout the neighbourhood, thus keeping the tradition and leading the bondinho to be part of the city's historical and cultural heritage.

We recommend you experience the feeling of getting on the bondinho, and, of course, if you want to know more, you can visit the Museo do Bonde in the same neighbourhood of Santa Teresa.

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