The guide on our walking tour of Rio was enthusiastic about the Santa Teresa neighborhood. He thought we should have stayed there, rather than in a swanky (and not outstanding) Copacabana beach hotel. I'm not sure he was right, because getting to Santa Teresa is a strenuous climb, and it's not currently served by public transportation. But it certainly is an interesting neighborhood.
Some buildings are both plain and decorated. The spaces between the buildings give views down to other parts of Rio.
Here's a view of a favela from the heights. We were promised a tour, but ran out of time.
Santa Teresa itself has plenty of gritty - but picturesque - aspects.
Click photos to enlarge them.