Santa Theresa is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. Compared to modern neighborhoods like Copacabana and Ipanema, it is ornate, spray painted and much of it could be considered run down–but it has a unique to itself charm.
According to my Airbnb Santa Theresa host, it began as a convent on the hill and grew as people sought better air and more vegetation. Favelas grew up around it and it lost in popularity till about seven years ago. If you go to Rio, it’s right next to a neighborhood named Lapa which you’ll definitely want to visit as Lapa is known for its samba clubs.
When I first saw the old streets and amount of graffiti, I was unsure about the safety but my host assured me it was fine but to mind the usual safety precautions like keeping your cell phone tucked away. One evening my host, her little boy and I walked up the hill and I was entranced by the tropical air and old buildings.