In this series of blog posts Ellie Dewdney will be keeping you up to date with current issues that could affect Britain’s most special places and what the National Trust are doing to preserve these national treasures.
At the moment it feels like the World Cup in Brazil is all anyone wants to talk about. Football fan or not, there is no denying that many of us probably fancy embracing the jet set lifestyle and heading off to see some of Brazil’s most famous sites and maybe a game or two as well.
For most of us this is probably more of a dream than a reality but all is not lost. Here at the trust we thought we’d take the time to remind you that there’s no need to travel half way across the world to see spectacular places. And though host nation Brazil seem set to go further than us in this tournament – in terms of breath-taking countryside and special places, Britain is able to give Brazil a run for its money!
Below we compare some of Brazil’s most iconic tourist destinations with some of Britain’s lesser known gems.
Tijuca National Park (Rio de Janeiro) VS Brecon Beacons National Park (Wales)
Tijuca National Park is the largest urban forest in the world, spanning 8,000 acres of mountainous rainforest. A spectacular spot for the budding photographer in all of us, the park boasts picturesque waterfalls and a plethora of exotic plants and animals. Visitors to the park also get to enjoy panoramic views of the entire city. If that wasn’t enough it is also home to the world famous Christ the Redeemer Statue.
However, the Brecon Beacons can offer you gorgeous mountainous scenery much closer to home. Pen y Fan is the highest point in southern Britain and rewards tourists with never ending views of the surrounding countryside. This place is perfect for anyone looking for some fresh air and a chance to unwind. If you don’t fancy trekking up a mountain in Brazil’s oppressive heat this might be more your cup of tea. Although, Wales might not have any rainforest to speak of, the Trust is currently working on improving local woodland and, in doing so, is offering British wildlife in the Beacons a boost.
Catedral Metropolitana (Soa Paulo) VS Whipsnade Tree Cathedral (Bedforshire)
Nestled in the heart of the old town of Soa Paulo (on the hill between theTamanduateí and Anhangabaú valleys) is the awe-inspiring neo-gothic catholic Catedral Metropolitana – the largest church in the whole city. There has been a church on the site since 1598. The Cathedrals history and design (including numerous representations of Old testament prophets on the façade and stained glass windows detailing the history of Soa Paulo) make this a must see spot for culturally minded visitors to the city.
But in Britain we can more than hold our own when it comes to historic churches. In fact, nearly a quarter of all visits to leading attractions in Britain last year were to sacred buildings. Though the most famous/recognizable is unquestionably St Paul’s Cathedral in London, if you are looking for a better counterpart to Brazil’s Catedral Metropolitana, the gothic York Minister is well worth a trip and its extensive history (having had a verifiable presence since the 4th century) makes Metropolitana seem like a toddler in comparison.
For those of you looking for something a little less … conventional, there is the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral. Owned and maintained by the Trust, the ‘cathedral’ is located in a 9.5 acre garden and is composed of a variety of trees planted in the form of a cathedral with grass avenues for the nave, chancel, transepts, chapels and cloisters. The Tree Cathedral was planted by Mr Edmond K. Blyth as an act of “Faith, hope and reconciliation” in response to his memories of World War I and you can still attend services there today.
Copacabana (Rio de Janeiro) VS Studland Beach (Isle of Purbeck)
Copacabana is one of the most famous beaches in Brazil, if not the world. And it’s hardly surprising, considering it offers sun seekers 4km of pristine white sand, that Copacabana pretty much epitomises most of our expectations of a ‘perfect’ sea side get away. The beach also enjoys an electric atmosphere – with locals or ‘cariocas’ always kicking a ball around and vendors enthusiastically peddling their local dishes from the promenade.
Then again, although Britain might not be able to compete with Brazil’s climate (the average temperature in winter is still 19 degrees!), Britain is not short on stunning coast line. The Studland Beach in Dorset is genuinely a hidden treasure. At 4 miles it is not only bigger but quieter than Copacabana and from this relaxing spot you can soak in views of the Isle of Man and the Old Harry Rocks. For those of you who still feel envious of the thrills that Copacabana can offer, you can also up the excitement by getting your kit off. No, really! This piece of National Trust shoreline also includes the most popular naturist beach in Britain.