City Center, Rio De Janeiro Centro
Parça 15 da Novembro
Praça 15 de NovembroPraça 15 de Novembro is the scene of frequent markets for the sale of antiques, art, postage stamps and coins. From here there are boat services to Niterói and the Ilha de Paquetá.
Chafariz da Pirâmide
Chafariz da PirâmideIn the center of the square is the Chafariz da Pirâmide, a fountain by Valentim da Fonseca e Silva, known as Mestre (Master) Valentim, a native of Minas Gerais who ranks after Aleijadinho as the greatest sculptor of colonial Brazil.
National Historical Museum
On Praça Marechal Ancora is the National Historical Museum (Museu Histórico Nacional), housed in the Casa de Trem (1762) and the former Military Arsenal (1764), with a library, historical archives, large collections of coins and weapons, and works of religious art. Of particular interest are the oval paintings by Leandro Joaquim depicting events in the history of the city, which are of great documentary importance as well as high artistic quality.
On Largo do Paço, opposite Praça 15 de Novembro, is the Paço Imperial (1735), the best preserved public building in old Rio, the seat of the Portuguese Viceroys and the town palace of the Emperor. On the side facing the bay is a doorway of pedra de lioz (a marble-like stone) bearing a coat of arms. The building was designed by the military architect José Fernandes Pinto Alpoim, the leading architect of 18th century Rio. Recently restored, it is now a cultural center.
Nossa Senhora da Lapa dos Mercadores
Travessa do Comércio cuts across Rua do Ouvidor, which in the later days of the Empire was the center of the newspaper industry and the trade in luxury goods. In this street is the church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa dos Mercadores, a splendid Baroque building of 1747.
Nossa Senhora da Candelária
Rua 1 de Maráo, Rua da Quitanda and other side streets off Rua do Ouvidor lead to Largo da Candelária (Praça Pio X), off which opens the wide Avenida Presidente Vargas. In the square is the largest church in Rio, Nossa Senhora da Candelária, the construction of which, begun in 1775, dragged on into the late 19th century. This neo-classical church shows clear Italian influence: the ground-plan is a Latin cross, and the usual carved wood of the interior has given place to multi-colored marble. The exterior combines Baroque and Renaissance features. On the high altar are columns of Carrara marble; the doors are bronze.
Rua 1 de Março crosses Avenida Presidente Vargas and continued to the Morro de São Bento, just above the harbor. On this hill are the church and monastery of São Bento, one of the finest Benedictine complexes in Brazil. The original plan of 1617, by the military architect Francisco Frias, underwent some alteration in the second half of the 17th century, when the church, originally aisleless, was enlarged by the addition of eight side chapels. The finest artists of the Order were engaged in the decoration of the interior. The exuberant carving was mainly the work of a monk named Domingos da Conceição, who was also responsible for the figures of St Benedict and St Scholastica on the high altar. The choir chapel has silver-work by Mestre Valentim and fourteen paintings by Ricardo do Pilar, a monk who was the finest Benedictine painter of colonial Brazil. His masterpiece, the "Senhor dos Martírios" ("Christ of the Passion"), is in the sacristy of the monastery.
São Francisco da Penitência
São Francisco da PenitênciaBeside Santo Antônio is the Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco da Penitência, which was begun in 1657. Among those who contributed to the decoration of the interior, which was completed only in 1773, were Manuel and Francisco Xavier de Brito, two leading Portuguese sculptors and woodcarvers. Both of them had very similar styles - the "Brito style" - with decorative forms which influenced Aleijadinho and other masters of Brazilian Baroque. The ceiling of the choir has the earliest trompe-l'oeil painting in Brazil (1732-36), the work of Caetano da Costa Coelho, who later painted the ceiling of the nave in the same style.
Museu Naval e Oceanográfico
Museu Naval e OceanográficoTo the east of Praça 15 de Novembro, in Rua Dom Manuel, is the Museum of Shipping and Oceanography, which displays old charts, weapons, models of carvels, photographs and other documents illustrating the history of seafaring in Brazil.
Museum of the Image and Sound
Monte do Carmo & Nossa Senhora do Carmo
In Rua 1 de Maráo, a side street off Rua do Ouvidor, are the church of the Monte do Carmo, a lay Carmelite order, and the parish church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Antiga Sé, which from 1808 to 1889 was the Capela Real (Chapel Royal). The two Carmelite churches are separated from one another only by a passage. The church of the Monte do Carmo, built from 1755 onwards, has a Baroque façade and a doorway of pedra de lioz. A notable feature is the white and gold carving by Mestre Valentim in the Chapel of the Noviciate. In the former Cathedral of Nossa Senhora da Antiga Sé (1761), which is richly decorated with carving, the most notable features are the silver high altar and a picture of Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Our Lady of Carmel). Mestre Valentim was responsible for all the carving (later almost completely destroyed by fire) in the church of Santa Cruz dos Militares, as well as for the wooden statues of St Matthew and St John. The adjoining museum displays both religious and military items. In a side street is the chapel of Nossa Senhora do Cabo da Boa Esperança (Our Lady of the Cape of Good Hope), the last surviving street oratory in the city.
Arcos da LapaTo the south of the Cathedral are the Arcos da Lapa, a double tier of arches 64m/210ft high and 270m/295yds long, part of the Aqueduto da Carioca, which was constructed in the colonial period to bring water from the Rio Carioca to Largo da Carioca. This was the first major civil building project carried out in Rio de Janeiro. It is one of the familiar landmarks of Rio and of the Lapa quarter, which in the first half of the 20th century became a great center of the vie de bohäme.
Arco do Telles
The arch at the entrance to Travessa do Comércio, a short distance from Praça 15 de Novembre, is all that remains of a house built by Alpoim for the Telles de Menezes family which was burned down in 1790. The narrow cobbled lanes of this quarter are nowadays the scene of open-air cultural events, and the tall houses with their thick walls are now occupied by bars and elegant restaurants.
Santo AntônioOn Largo da Carioca are the church and monastery of Santo Antônio and the church of the lay Franciscan order. The church of Santo Antônio (1608-20) is the oldest in the city.
Cathedral of São Sebastião
CathedralTo the south of Largo da Carioca, is the modern Cathedral of São Sebastião (1964-76), which can accommodate a congregation of 20,000.
Santa Cruz dos Militares
OIn Rua 1 de Maráo, a side street off Rua do Ouvidor, is the church of Santa Cruz dos Militares (1770-1811),
Between the Rio-Niterói bridge and Praça 15 de Novembro, is the Ilha Fiscal, the whole area of which (7000sq.m/8400sq.yds) is occupied by a neo-Gothic castle built in April 1889. There are likenesses of Dom Pedro II and Princess Isabel in stained glass windows. Here in November 1889 was held the last ball of the Empire.
Largo da Carioca
Largo da CariocaFrom Praça Mauá Avenida Rio Branco cuts through the central area and at the Parque do Flamengo (see below) runs into Avenida Beira-Mar. A side street off Avenida Rio Branco leads to Largo da Carioca, now a favorite haunt of artists and craftsmen, with one of the finest churches in Rio.
To the south of the National Historical Museum is the Santos Dumont Airport (regional and national services), on land reclaimed from the sea between the mainland and the island of Villegaignon.
Museum of Naval Academy
On the island which is linked with the Santos-Dumond Airport, there once stood a French fort defending França Antárctica, and after the expulsion of the French the Portuguese built another fort. The main feature of interest on the island is now the Museum of the Naval Academy.
Ilha das Cobras
From the Morro de São Bento a bridge leads on to the Ilha das Cobras, which in the colonial period was fortified by the Portuguese.
Nossa Senhora do Bonsucesso
Near the National Historical Museum, in Largo da Misericórdia, is the early 17th century church of Nossa Senhora do Bonsucesso.
Map of Rio de Janeiro Attractions