Vila Jardim Santa Cecília
Rio de Janeiro

Allen Morrison

In addition to its world-famous tramway, 18th century aqueduct, inclined planes and wonderful views over the city, the Santa Teresa district of Rio de Janeiro also has one of the world's strangest (and least known) railways – which uses only one rail.

The line climbs 150 meters (492 feet) from a shelter on Rua Almirante Alexandrino up a steep serpentine path through a cluster of 45 houses that cling to the side of a hill. (See Santa Teresa Tramway map.) The gasoline-powered motorcar, which carries five passengers, has two rubber tires at the back and a double-flanged steel wheel at the front which grips the single rail. There is also a small trailer that can be attached for moving large loads – the railway is the only access to the homes of about 200 people. There are turning loops at both ends of the line and transportation is available 24 hours a day.

The Vila Jardim Santa Cecília community is sometimes called the "Bairro Suíço" (Swiss Quarter) or "Morro do Alemão" (German Hill) because of its German-speaking population. The residents built their monotrilho in 1949. The photographs below were taken on 14 September 1997 by Sergio Luis dos Santos, who kindly provided permission for their reproduction.

The views portray the line from the top of the hill to the street level:


Ciléia Gropillo. "Os Caminhos que levam aonde o Rio é mais bonito" in Jornal do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro), Caderno B, p. 9, 9/1/1980. Description and picture of the Santa Cecília railway.

Aimée Louchard. "Prova amorável de Convívio e resistência" in Jornal do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro), Caderno Domingo, pp. 8-15, 4/1/1981. Feature article on Santa Teresa includes a brief description and picture of the monorail.

Lucia Rito. "Parece que foi ontem" in Jornal do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro), Caderno Estilo de Vida, pp. 16-17, [1985] (the pages are undated, but the text suggests 1985). History and large photo of the monorail.

Luciana Calaza. "Um bondinho curioso, que sobe e desce o dia todo" in O Globo (Rio de Janeiro), "Morar Bem" section, p. 3, 16/4/2006. Nice, half-page article with three excellent photographs.

This online article from June 2010 includes three enlargeable photographs of the monorail line.


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Copyright © 2006-2106 Allen Morrison