You’ve probably heard about the Pedra da Gavea mountain, one of the most beautiful postcards in Rio de Janeiro. But do you know all the mysteries surrounding this natural wonder? No? Ok, so join us on this journey!
Characteristics and Name
Pedra da Gavea, from the top of its 844 meters (2,700 feet) of altitude, is part of Tijuca National Park and is the world’s tallest coastal monolith. The rock is composed of granite and gneiss.
It is possible to reach the top of the mountain through a trail of approximately three hours. The view of the wonderful city is amazing. But before reaching the summit, we have to go through the section known as “Carrasqueira”. This climbing wall of approximately 25 meters (80 feet) is a great challenge in the Pedra da Gavea hike. Despite its easy climbing level, it does not mean that it has no difficulty. During this part, you need to find places to support your feet and hands between the cracks. But don’t worry, the handholds are huge! It will also be necessary to use ropes and equipment for safety reasons. In addition, it is recommended to be accompanied by an experienced professional who is trained in rock climbing safety procedures.
The stone is named for its shape, which resembles the “gávea”, the observation basket located at the top of a ship’s mast. This name was still granted under the expedition of Captain Gaspar de Lemos and Américo Vespucci, around 1502.
Origin Controversy of Pedra da Gavea
However, it is not the name or the official history of Pedra da Gavea that most fascinates local citizens and many people around the world who had the opportunity to visit the place. It is its unique characteristics and origins not yet proven that allows the imagination of the most varied people to flow. The stone has the shape of a huge face, which many believe is a giant sculpture or a huge sphinx. There are also inscriptions on the side of the stone, similar to Phoenician writing. We will see below a possible connection between the writings and the shape of the stone.
In 1928, the archaeologist Bernardo da Silva Ramos was the first to see a code with meaning in the inscriptions at Pedra da Gavea. After identifying the letters one by one, translating them into Hebrew, and transliterating them into Portuguese, he found the phrase “Tyro Phenicia, Badezir, Firstborn of Jethbaal”.
In 1954, another translation added more meaning to the message. José Henrique de Souza, the founder of the Brazilian Theosophical Society, interpreted the writing as “Jethbaal, Phoenician of Tyre, firstborn of Badezir”. He believed that the exiled king of Tire (capital of Phoenicia, today Lebanon, Syria, and northern Israel) Baal-zir or Badezir arrived here with his twin sons Yet-Baal-Bey and Yet-Baal-Bel. While crossing Guanabara Bay, the sons of King Badezir had their boat sunk by a storm and drowned. Then, their bodies were retrieved and placed in a spot in the middle of Pedra da Gavea, which ended up becoming the tomb of the princes, where the face of the firstborn was carved, giving the characteristic shape of the stone. Hence the belief in the presence of a Phoenician tomb in Pedra da Gavea.
Despite the coincidences, scientists claim that the face shape and the inscriptions are nothing more than erosion in the rock, caused by physical phenomena. They also claim that the fact that we see a face in the stone is due to pareidolia. A phenomenon when we see familiar shapes in abstract things. So it would be just a coincidence. Really?
Another intriguing legend is that two divers were exploring an underwater cave at the base of the mountain when they suddenly lost consciousness, and when they resumed, they were at the top of the mountain. Very strange, don´t you think? This is just one more mystery of the local folklore about this magnificent place.
Pedra da Gavea Hike
We will never discover all of Pedra da Gavea’s secrets, but we will not miss the opportunity to know the place up close. The start of the 3 km (1.85 mi) extension trail is located at Estrada Sorimã, Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro. Start right when the park opens, at 8 am. You will have more time to enjoy the hike. Just don’t forget that the park closes at 5 pm! The use of sunscreen and insect repellent is extremely important. The walk begins in the forest, where you may see local fauna. It ends in a mountainous place with wonderful landscapes, but a high incidence of sun rays. It is also essential to carry plenty of water to stay hydrated. Remembering that because of the difficulty, we recommend being accompanied by a specialized guide. For that, count on us and check our Pedra da Gavea tour offer!