One of the most impressive places to visit in downtown Rio is the Royal Portuguese Reading Room in Rio de Janeiro. Yes, a library!
Real Gabinete Português de Leitura is the name of this library opened in 1887, when Rio de Janeiro was still the capital of Brazil. It is located precisely in Luís de Camões Street, number 30. The library has a huge number of Portuguese texts and receives around 6000 new titles every year. It’s the largest collection of Portuguese texts out of Portugal.
The architect responsible for the project was Rafael da Silva e Castro. The design evokes a Gothic-Renaissance influence that was popular at the time. The Emperor Pedro II inaugurated it on September 10th, 1887.
On average, it receives 150 visitors daily. Among its illustrious visitors from the past are the names of Machado de Assis, Olavo Bilac and João do Rio. The history of the Brazilian Academy of Letters is linked to the Royal Cabinet. The first five solemn sessions of the Academy, under the presidency of Machado de Assis, were held here.
One of the Most Beautiful Libraries!
And of course such a beautiful place would call someone’s attention. In 2014, Time Magazine elected the Royal Portuguese library in Rio de Janeiro fourth in the 20 most beautiful libraries in the world.
Incredible Titles and Books
The library of the Royal Cabinet has around 350,000 volumes, both national and foreign. Some are rare works, such as a first edition of Os Lusíadas of Camões (from 1572); the Ordinations of D. Manuel (1521); the Capitolos de Cortes and Leys (1539) and a manuscript of the comedy “Tu, só tu, puro amor” by Brazilian writer Machado de Assis. There is also an impressive collection of paintings.
The Royal Cabinet also has the responsibility of promoting courses on Literature, Portuguese Language, History, Anthropology and Arts, destined mainly for university students. It also publishes the magazine Convergência Lusíada.
Virtual Tour at the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading
To clarify, let’s take a virtual tour at the Royal Portuguese Reading Room. If you want to see it in real life, join us on our Historical Center RioLIVE! Just be careful not to fall in love with it.
The Royal Portuguese library in Rio de Janeiro is open to the public from Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Now, remember: shhh! Silence, please!