• Great place!
  • Nice place!
  • Ok place.

Santa Marta Favela

Female opinion

Probably the most famous favela in Rio already since 1996 when Michael Jackson filmed part of his video for the song “They don't care about us” here. Santa Marta is also the steepest and the most colorful slum. Besides Michael Jackson, the favela with its great views and vibrant atmosphere, attracted many other international celebrities. Definitely worth taking a guided tour by local residents to see all the hidden attractions and to hear stories about favela's real life. By buying such a tour you also contribute to the local community.

Male opinion

Santa Marta is one of the pacified favelas, making it one of the safest to visit. It has seen its fair share of famous visitors from around the world. Nevertheless, you should visit it with a local guide. In any favela you need to know the current situation, not to get in the middle of a shootout. As a local guide put it: “After the pacification the guns and the shootings are still there. The only thing that changed was who has the guns – before the drug lords, now the police.” The pictures from Santa Marta usually show the colorful houses, but this is just a fraction, one square, of the huge community. So don´t expect a stroll in a colorful fairytale village.

Santa Marta is located in Botafogo and Laranjeiras neighbrohoods on Dona Marta hill and has about 6000 residents. In 2008 Santa Marta became the first pacified favela in Rio de Janeiro.

Dona Marta hill got its name already in the 17th century, when a priest bought its lands and named the hill in honor of his mother Marta. The origin of Santa Marta name dates back to early 20th centry, when a devotee of Santa Marta took the saint's picture to the top of the hill. A chapel was built there and people started to settle down around it, thus the slum was formed.

Tips for Santa Marta favela

  • A good way to see the favela is by a guided tour, organized by local resident and social activist Thiago Firmino: http://favelasantamartatour.blogspot.com.br This gives you an opportunity to see favela's life through the eyes of its residents and support the local community.
  • Choose a sunny day to visit Santa Marta to enjoy the full view from above. With cloudy weather the Christ statue is not visible.

Michael Jackson song filmed in Santa Marta

They Don't Care About Us” by Michael Jackson, filmed in 1996 in Santa Marta, Rio de Janeiro and Pelourinho, Salvador de Bahia.

Quick facts

Type: favela
Touristic: yes
Getting there: easy
Minimal transport: metro + taxi
Height: 362 meters
Cost: medium (tour price)
Other names: Favela Santa Marta, Saint Martha's favela, Morro Dona Marta, Dame Martha's Hill
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How to get there

Address: Rua Marechal Francisco de Moura

Hood: Botafogo

From Ipanema, General Osorio: 
1. Take metro to Botafogo station.
2. Take an Uber or a taxi to Santa Marta favela.

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