It's a cab ride out of town, but nature lovers and architecture buffs will find it worth the effort to visit this plantation-turned-museum honoring Roberto Burle Marx, Brazil's legendary landscape architect. Marx, the mind behind Rio's swirling mosaic beachfront walkways and the Atêrro do Flamengo, was said to have "painted with plants," and he was the first designer to use Brazilian flora in his projects. More than 3,500 species—including some discovered by and named
for Marx, as well as many on the endangered list—flourish at this 100-acre estate. Marx grouped his plants not only according to their soil and light needs but also according to their shape and texture. He also liked to mix the modern with the traditional—a recurring theme throughout the property. The results are both whimsical and elegant. In 1985 he bequeathed the farm to the Brazilian government, though he remained here until his death in 1994. His house is now a cultural center full of his belongings, including collections of folk art, and the beautiful gardens are a tribute to his talents. The grounds also contain his ultramodern studio (he was a painter, too) and a small, restored colonial chapel dedicated to St. Anthony.