Recognised as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world by TIME, the Royal Portuguese Reading Room in Rio de Janeiro (known as Real Gabinete Português da Leitura in Portuguese) is a hidden treasure in the city centre and an absolute must-visit. The plain exterior masks the inside which is breathtakingly beautiful with its lavish decorations and historical settings.
Although founded in 1837, the construction only started in 1880 by Portuguese architect Rafael da Silva. The idea of creating the library came from a group of 43 Portuguese immigrants who wanted to spread culture and literature among the Portuguese communities living in Brazil. It was built in neo-manueline style with a limestone exterior displaying statues of past Portuguese explorers – Pedro Alvares Cabral, Luis de Camoes, Infante D. Henrique, and Vasco da Gama.
It has a showcase collection of books – some 350,000 volumes of both foreign and national books and continues to receive about 6,000 new titles each year from Portugal. It houses some rare editions dating back nearly 500 years such as Princeps by Os Lusíadas de Camões (1572) and As Ordenações by D. Manuel (1521). The Royal Portuguese Reading Room serves an important purpose in preserving ancient texts and is of immense cultural value to the Portuguese colony. Just for the architecture though, it’s definitely worth a visit.
– Always ask a librarian before touching or opening the texts and books there.
Real Gabinete Português da Leitura, Rua Luís de Camões, 30, Centro, Tel: +55 (21) 2221 3138
Hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm
Love it? Pin it!