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Rio de Janeiro

The Unique Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro There is more to Rio de Janeiro than sizzling beaches and an even hotter nightlife. In fact, a large part of what gives the Marvelous City its reputation as one of the most beautiful in the world is the fabulous, archaic architecture of its monuments, churches, and public buildings. Ranging from the lavish Art-Deco styled buildings to the more historic and classical structures, the architecture captures the beauty and mystery that is the Brazilian culture and displays it in physical form.

Architecturally, Rio de Janeiro has several neighborhoods that offer the greatest highlights. Praca XV, or the imperial square, where the royal family of Portugal set up their temporary capital is an area with many highlights such as the Royal Palace and the skillfully carved fountain of Chafariz do Mestre Valentim, built in 1780, which was formally the sight of an old ship dock. Nearby, there is also the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, the largest bank in Latin America.

And then there are the rows and rows of traditional sobrados - local two-story housing units - which carry an air of beauty that is all their own. Below is a general overview of architectural highlights from various parts of the city.

Rio has many beautiful churches, and these alone can keep you busy exploring for days. Brazilians take great pride in their churches, as some of these structures took over 100 years to build. Some churches are in their original forms while others have been renovated and "updated" to look much more contemporary.

Igreja da Candelaria
This church was originally built in the early 17th century, but has been reshaped and remodeled so many times that the end result is an interesting mixture of several architectural styles, from Baroque to Neoclassical. The dome built in Portuguese limestone was completed in 1887 and now famously caps off the church. The eight white marble statues around the dome were the works of Jose Cesario de Sales and were sculpted in Portugal.

Igreja de Sao Jose
This church is also a mix of several styles, with contrast between the colonial whitewashed and stone walls with the heavily engraved Rococo-styled interiors.
Av. Presidente Antonio Carlos

Catedral Metropolitana
The stained glass windows of this church are very impressive, and the overall architecture of this church is High Gothic.
Av. Republica de Chile 245

There aren't a lot of palaces of the caliber of those found in Paris or Moscow, but there are two sites that are certainly worth visiting.

Palacio Itamaraty
Built in the 1850's for a coffee merchant, this palace was sold to the new republican government in 1889. It was then converted into a museum, but now remains closed off almost completely except for one exhibition room, which allows you to visit and explore the beautiful interior courtyard.
Rua Marachel Floriano 196

Palacio Gustavo Capanema
This is the most modern "palace" built from 1932 to 1936 by Brazil's top architects- Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa- the two architects who designed the new capital of Brasilia. This structure was the first of its kind at the time, and many architectural lovers are astounded by the ingenuity of this design.
Rua da Imprensa

Other Important Sites
An interesting location to visit is Praca Floriano, referred to commonly by the subway stop Cinelandia, where you can find the Teatro Municipal (modeled on the Paris Opera house), Museu de Belas Artes, and the Biblioteca Nacional, all done to create the feel of a quint essential Parisian square.

Another site of interest is the Avenida Central that cuts through the Center of Rio. Also, the monument to the Brazilians that died in World War II is a highlight of Parque do Flamengo.

Further Architecture Information

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