Street art is as intrinsically Rio as Ipanema Beach.

Melanie Lieberman

If you’ve been paying attention to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, you may have noticed how colorful the city of Rio de Janeiro is. It’s not just blue skies and forest-blanketed mountains that give it such a vibrant disposition.

The Marvelous City is covered in street art—and it’s not a show of civil defiance. One of the quirkiest things about Rio is that street art is more or less legal. In 2009, the Brazilian government decriminalized street art—and Law 706/07 even made it permissible to tag private property with the owner’s consent.

Instead of accusing street artists of defacing buildings and public spaces, Brazil has celebrated their works as powerful means of expression. Such progressive regulations have attracted street artists from across the globe, who flock to cities like Rio and São Paulo.

Street art is regularly commissioned by the government for public spaces, too, like the walls enclosing the Jardim Botânico (the city’s botanical garden). Hundreds of individual pieces cover the cement walls, creating one of the largest collections of street art in all of Rio—and only the very best get to leave their mark here.

Related: Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide

Want to see more amazing graffiti by Brazil’s best street artists? Check out @InstawalkRio, an account that maps out some of the most iconic artworks across the streets of Rio, and captures new works by everyone from Acme to Rita Wainer. 

You May Like