The Lapa Arches are a double tier of arches 64m high and 270m long, a part of Carioca Aquaduct. The arches are located in the Lapa District of Rio de Janeiro, crossing Mem de Sá Avenue, linking the Santa Teresa Tram Station and Santa Teresa Neighborhood.
In Rio, the Arches are seen twice, first when Linda and Blu first arrived in Rio and again when Blu, Jewel, and Rafael met Pedro and Nico, followed by taking one of the trolleys that pass over the arches in order to see Luiz.
In the past, Rio de Janeiro faced difficulty in bringing fresh water from streams, located relatively far from the city, into the city's nucleus. To solve this problem, there had been plans to build a canal system to bring fresh water from the source of Carioca River, located on Santa Teresa Hill, to the central of the city, but the construction constantly faced with technical and financial difficulties. The actual construction of the aqueducts began around 1706. The construction continued over the next 17 years when it's completely finished and fully operational in 1723.
Standing tall, strong, and lived through several decades, the Santa Teresa-Santo Antônio (including the renowned Lapa Arches) course is the most significant feature among all the other courses.
Carioca Aqueduct played an important role in supplying freshwater to several fountains scattering through Rio de Janeiro. By the end of the 18th century, water from Carioca River was insufficient to feed the aqueduct, other streams were also derived to its canal. The aqueduct was eventually deactivated at the end of the 19th century.
Tramwayhe aqueduct was deactivated at the end of the 19th century, as new alternatives to supply water to Rio were developed. The structure was adapted in 1896 to serve as a viaduct for a tram line – the Bonde de Santa Teresa (Santa Teresa Tramway) – that transports passengers between the centre of Rio and the hilly Santa Teresa neighbourhood. The picturesque ride is popular among locals and tourists alike. The Santa Teresa bonde (or bondinho, meaning "little tram") is the only tram still in operation in Rio de Janeiro, although the 2016-opened Rio de Janeiro Light Rail system is similar to a tramway on some sections.
In the 1960s, several houses which had been built near the aqueduct were demolished, improving the visual impact of the monument.
In August 2011, an accident occurred when brakes apparently failed and left five people dead. In response, all service was indefinitely suspended, but plans to rebuild the line and replace the old tramcars (with faux-vintage replicas) were subsequently approved. Limited service on a portion of the line – including across the former aqueduct – began operating again in July 2015.