( dpa ) - With a dazzling parade despite the rain on the last day of the official samba school competition, Rio de Janeiro amazed the world and said goodbye to its Carnival in the early hours of Tuesday.
The Portuguese royal family, gnomes, and evan a giant robot appeared on stage and gave robust, festive accent to the Marques de Sapucai avenue. The obsession to collect objects from dolls to refrigerator magnets was also a theme on the avenue.
The group Imperatriz Leopoldinense, the winner of four editions of the Rio Carnival, displayed its fantasy and creativity on the stage to remember the Brazilian trip of the Portuguese court. One float represented the "real movements" of an 11-metre-long whale, symbolizing the arrival of King Joao VI on Brazilian territory.
Two hundred years after its visit, the Portuguese royal family was also honoured by the samba school Mocidade Independente del Padre Miguel, which told the story of the Portuguese empire mixing the European baroque style with tropical scenery.
The group showed an impressive float which carried 1,500 litres of water, decorated with thousands of shells and sculptured half-naked women, to represent one of the legends about Don Sebastian, a Portuguese king of the 12th century.
According to the legend, the monarch - who dreamed of turning Portugal into the fifth universal empire - disappeared in Africa to see his kingdom re-emerge "magically" on Brazilian soil.
Unidos da Tijuca used its time at the Sambodromo Carnival stadium with a vast array of dolls, fridge magnets, books, clocks and even a gnome orchestra, to speak of the "obsession" to collect and tell the stories of collectors and collections.
A giant robot took to the stage under the rain with the group Grande Rio to stress the importance of natural gas, while workers and their fights were remembered by the school Vila Isabel, with Miss Brazil - Natalia Guimaraes - as its acclaimed queen.
Defending champion Beija Flor was in charge of closing the largest Carnival in the world, which gathered some 70,000 people at the Sambodrome on its last night. With a sumptuous parade, the group told the history and reflected the natural beauties of the northern Brazilian state of Amapa.
Fireworks, floats representing an incandescent sun and the beauty of its muses turned the school into a firm favourite to the title in the 2008 Carnival.
Other groups had shown off their pieces at the Sambodromo on Sunday night.
Each "escola de samba" or samba school - most of which come from from the city's slums, or "favelas" - has 80 minutes to cover the 800-metre parade route in the Sambodromo with floats and some 4,000 dancers.
Fourteen samba groups took part in the official competition, and a jury is to choose the winner. The results are to be broadcast live on television on Ash Wednesday and are important not only in Rio but throughout the country.