The city of Rio de Janeiro has, as one of its unique characteristics, the praise for cultural diversity. The Feira de Sao Cristovao is the living proof of that!
It is not uncommon to see many communities from all over Brazil living there – some are even from around the globe. And the Northeast of this fantastic country called Brazil has its place in Rio de Janeiro also, in the form of Feira de Sao Cristovao.
The Luiz Gonzaga Center of Northeastern Traditions ( Centro Luiz Gonzaga de Tradições Nordestinas), the real name of Feira de Sao Cristovao proves with its size and history how much these people were – and still are! – essential for the development of Rio de Janeiro.
The history of Feira de Sao Cristovao
It all began back in 1945 when the people from the Northeastern states of Brazil came down to the Southeast in search of better work and fleeing hunger and the severe droughts that were very common on the most impoverished areas of Brazil. For our readers unfamiliar with Brazil’s geography, in a nutshell, the NE of Brazil has what we can call “Brazilian Desert”, the Caatinga.
The definition of Caatinga is a type os a desert and one of Brazil’s ecoregion s. It is characterised by unique vegetation in interior northeastern Brazil. The name “Caatinga” is a Tupi word meaning “white forest” or “white vegetation” (caa = forest, vegetation, tinga = white). Tupi is one of the many languages of the Native Brazilians.
The Caatinga is a xeric shrubland and thorn forest, which consists primarily of small, thorny trees that shed their leaves seasonally. Cacti, thick-stemmed plants, thorny brush, and arid-adapted grasses make up the ground layer.
As you can guess, it doesn’t sound like an easy place to live if you need the land to give you what you need. And that, amongst many others, was the reason for the mass migration from north to south back in the days.
Since those people came to the SE, leaving their families and friends behind, it is not a surprise that the community got stronger as the years went by. A mix of homesickness and will power put together what today is one of the best non-touristic attractions you can have in Rio de Janeiro.
Back in the 40s, several people were arriving in Rio de Janeiro in trucks, and their stop was the Campo de Sao Cristovao. On those events, you could find loads and loads of typical food, music and more. This was the beginning of what we call now Feira de Sao Cristovao. This remained like this for almost 60 years, an open event around Sao Cristovao Field.
The years had passed, and the event got a new house. A brand new stadium-like pavilion that is as big as you can imagine. And it is like it is since 2003! The Feira de Sao Cristovao now is more than 30.000sqm and ranks in first as the largest markets in the whole city!
Besides the fun you’ll have, you will also set foot on some history. Cool, right?
If you’re up for a real, local adventure, Feira de Sao Cristovao is for you!
What to expect
The Feira de Sao Cristovao has dozens of restaurants and bars with typical food from the NE States, daily shows and smaller live concerts, shops, art, food vendors and much much more. It is a whole universe inside those gates! Feira de Sao Cristovao is already part of Rio de Janeiro nightlife.
You must keep an eye for food with the name of:
- Carne de Sol
- Tapioca (sweet and savoury)
- Baiao de dois
- Aipim Frito
- Manteiga de Garrafa (bottled butter)
- Juices made with all the fruits you’ve never heard of
Food from the NE States of Brazil has been heavily influenced by African cuisine due to Brazil’s colonial history and the years of slavery. You can expect to see plenty of beans, herbs, dried meats, cheese, bottled chillies, many new kinds of flours made from different sources and bottled melted butter for sale.
Since the Manteiga de garrafa is one of my favourites and it is a common condiment at the Northeastern dinner tables, here’s a tip: get yourself some carne seca (dried meat) and put it on top! You won’t regret it.
If your sweet tooth is calling for attention, worry no more. Here is the thing you must go to goiabada. Goiabada is a sweet made out of guava, and it is to die for! It is some kind of sweet hard jelly that is often eaten with a light white cheese or pure. If you’re in for the cheesy version, ask for a Romeo and Juliet (Romeu e Julieta in Portuguese)
Those are some of my favourite picks, but you’re welcome to share yours with all Fotostrasse family on our Facebook Group!
The whole vibe of the place reminds of the Festa Junina (a traditional Brazilian party that happens every June). If you don’t know what it is, maybe if I say it kinda feels like the Portuguese party called “Feast of St. Anthony” but without the fish.
This decor gives the final touch of how great the experience is! I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it.
For making sure you’ll get there on a day with a show happening on the big stage (yes! there is a big stage!), check their facebook and pick your favourite day. Even though you’ll have fun regardless of the day you choose, it is always more delightful if you go when there’s Forro or Baiao the anthems from the Brazilian northeast! Give preference to Friday or Saturday when the best acts happen.
When To Go to Feira de Sao Cristovao
Feira de Sao Cristovao is open every week, from Tuesday until Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm, and the entrance is free.
For the days I suggest a visit like Friday and Saturday, they are open from 10 am and the party is non stop until Sunday night (9 pm). To enter, there’s a small fee of 4 reais that is around 1 euro.
The weekend is the best time to go, so pay the 1 euro fee and enjoy life (around 5 reais)! On weekends all the stalls are open, the atmosphere is contagious, and there is live music all day and all night. On the big stage, next to it, inside the small shops and even inside the typical restaurants!
It is easy to get to by taking the subway to São Cristóvão station and then take the 484L bus straight there or a taxi. I recommend a taxi, so you don’t get lost. It won’t be so much from the Zona Sul, and even if it is, you can catch a taxi at the subway station. Even better, download Uber or 99 Taxi and be on the safe side of Rio de Janeiro, ok? They are not sponsoring this post, and I don’t endorse their service (since I only used a few times) or business model(!!), but still, it is safer than hailing a cab from the street.
But if you are with extra energy, I have to say that it is possible to walk there from the subway. It will take you about 20 or 25 minutes.