How Paint Has Transformed The Favelas

Sightseeing guides in Rio de Janeiro who lead tours of the favelas will share with you all  about the histories of these slums: they’ll tell you that they first appeared in the late 19th century and were built by soldiers who had nowhere to live, and that they were also largely homes to former slaves who didn’t own land and who didn’t have work options. Favela tours are a spectacular alternative to mainstream Rio de Janeiro attractions, such as Christ the Redeemer, and they’re praised for drawing awareness to the needs of Brazil’s underprivileged population, a side of the country that is often kept hidden. Local guides will warn that due to crowding, unsanitary conditions, poor nutrition and pollution, disease is rampant in the poorer favelas, but that does not mean they’re unsalvageable, and it certainly does not mean they should be further neglected. And two documentary-makers from Holland share this exact sentiment.

Ten years ago, Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas travelled to Rio to make a documentary about life in the favelas, and when they were admiring the slums from a distance, they noticed that while a handful of the buildings were painted and plastered, most were unfinished. What ensued was a carefully thought-out plan to plaster and paint each building, turning the slums into big works of art. Watch the following video – their story is inspiring – but be sure to also experience a favela first-hand; touring Rio’s slums is an experience you don’t want to miss. Simply hire a favela sightseeing tour guide in Rio and be on your way! Oh, and be sure to check out more amazing photographs of Brazil’s colorful streets.

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