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If you want a great view of Copacabana Beach from the water without a boat, go onto the point and visit Fort Copacabana (Forte de Copacabana). From here, the views of Copacabana Beach are stunning …

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… and you can see the hills behind, complete with favelas flowing down the slopes.

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But while you’re there, perhaps having coffee or a meal at the Confeiteria Colombo, make the time to visit the old fort and the Museum of the History of the Army.

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When we visited in December 2012, the museum was closed for renovation, but the fort was open.

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Completed in 1914, Forte de Copacabana is a military base situated on a point at the south end of Copacabana Beach. Built into the rock, the fort is below the massive guns that cover to the bay, protecting the coastline from invasion.

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The armaments consist of two cupolas, one holding a pair of 305mm (12-inch) Krupp cannons, and the other a pair of 190mm (7.5-inch) Krupp cannons, capable of firing across the bay to protect the entrance to Rio de Janeiro. (Well, they could at one time. Today, the guns are sealed off.)

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“Below decks”, the fort’s halls are a warren of concrete and ladders, and reminded me of both a submarine and of the Cabinet War Rooms in London.

Visiting the fort: The hours for the Museum (when it reopens) are 10 am to 6 pm, and the fort are 10 am to 8 pm, Tuesday to Sunday and holidays. Admission for adults is R$4 per adult; there are discounts and free tours for the elderly and children.

At the entrance to the base, in front of the fort, stands a guard in the uniform that was current when the fort was opened in 1914.

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For the 2016 Summer Olympics, the fort is scheduled to host the marathon swimming and triathlon events. From what we saw during our visit, that’s going to be quite a swim if they get outside of the protection of the harbor, with large waves and what appear to be vicious currents.