Rio de Janeiro Historic City Center

Rio de Janeiro is a rich historic city. In 1808 the Portuguese court moved to Brazil and settled in Rio de Janeiro. The city was the capital of Brazil from 1763 to 1961. Downtown Rio de Janeiro is full of buildings and places where we can get in touch with all this history. Here are some suggestions for unmissable attractions.

1.Teatro Municipal
One of the most historic and beautiful buildings in Rio de Janeiro, the Municipal Theater – located in Cinelândia, almost next to the National Library – was inaugurated in 1909 and for more than 100 years has hosted the main orchestras, ballet and dance companies in Brazil and the world .The imposing playhouse was built in the period when Rio de Janeiro was going through intense urban and cultural transformations and the city’s theatrical activity was also experiencing a boiling moment. Today the theater has a capacity for 2252 people and in 2008 it underwent a major restoration process.

Teatro Municipal Rio de Janeiro
Bruna Prado – MTur

2.Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
The building of the National Museum of Fine Arts, as well as many of the buildings in the historic center, was built in the midst of urban modernizations in the city at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, and by decree of President Getúlio Vargas, it became the famous museum in 1937.In addition to being another architectural frame of the capital of Rio de Janeiro, the Museum has the largest and most relevant collection of 19th century art and among drawings, prints, paintings, books, documents and different objects, it concentrates more than 70 thousand items brought to Brazil by the head of the French Artistic Mission Joaquim Lebreton and some works left by Dom João XI, when he returned to Brazil in 1821.

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes Rio de Janeiro

3.Biblioteca Nacional
The National Library, opened in 1910, is the largest in Latin America and is listed as the eighth in the world, with an impressive collection of 9 million volumes and some rarities, such as 19th century documentation brought by Dom João VI and the court from Portugal.
Home to the country’s main bibliographic heritage, the library’s sumptuous art noveau and neoclassical building welcomes students, researchers and visitors in general, who can also take the guided tour.

Biblioteca Nacional Rio de Janeiro

4.Real Gabinete Português de Leitura
Time magazine included the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, opened by Princess Isabel in 1887, in the list of the 20 most beautiful libraries in the world and among more than 350 thousand titles, there are rare historic books and the largest collection of Portuguese works far from the motherland. And this spectacular attraction is in the region of Praça Tiradentes, which has important theaters – João Caetano and Carlos Gomes – and many used bookstores in the vicinity.

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura Rio de Janeiro

5.Passo Imperial
The Imperial Palace is located in the Praça XV region, on Rua Primeiro de Março, formerly called Rua Direita and one of the first roads in Rio de Janeiro. Erected in 1743, the colonial building served as the seat of the Brazilian reign and empire after the arrival of Dom João VI in the country and in 1938 it was listed by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage.With graceful and so identifiable balconies, the building since 1985 has functioned as a cultural center, where exhibitions of painting, cinema, sculpture, music, crafts, photography etc. take place. The building also has a cafeteria and a very interesting bookshop, which has an excellent collection of CDs and vinyls rarely found on the market.

Passo Imperial Praça XV region

6.Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil( CCBB )
The building with neoclassical features located at the end of Primeiro de Março was erected in 1906 and at that time hosted the Commercial Association of Rio de Janeiro. In the 1920s it became part of Banco do Brasil, but it was only in 1989 that it became one of the most famous cultural centers in Rio.At the CCBB, visitors will be able to visit a permanent exhibition with a collection of coins and cells present in all moments of Brazilian history and temporary exhibitions of modern art, with exhibitions by authors from all over the world. The space also includes a library, video library, theater rooms, cinema and promotes events with debates from different areas of knowledge.In 2016, Banco do Brasil Cultural Center was on the list of the 100 most visited museums in the world, occupying the 26th position with 2,216,880 visitors.

Rio de Janeiro Historic City Center - Fala Aí - Portuguese School
Bruna Prado – MTur

7.Rua do Ouvidor
Rua do Ouvidor from the 19th century was filled with high standard establishments of all segments: perfumeries, fine clothing stores, coffee shops, tobacco shops, etc. There, the cream of Rio’s intellectuality circulated and the street was a kind of shopping center from ancient times. With the growth of the city, the street lost some of its charm, but even today it is a valuable setting in the affective memory of older Cariocas, or those who admire past reports of the wonderful city. A nice tip: be sure to walk along the stretch of Ouvidor that goes from Primeiro de Março to the vicinity of the Centro Cultural dos Correios and the building of the old Rio Stock Exchange, as there are some good bars to have a beer and enjoy Samba da Ouvidor.

Rio de Janeiro Historic City Center - Fala Aí - Portuguese School

8.Confeitaria Colombo
Confeitaria Colombo has existed since 1824 and is a maximum symbol of what was the Belle Epóque in Rio de Janeiro (which is characterized by European influence) and is part of the Historical and Artistic Heritage of Rio de Janeiro. It has been frequented by several world figures, such as Queen Elizabeth (1968) and King Albert of Belgium (1920).There are Belgian crystal mirrors, the hand-carved frames, the lamps and the skylight ceiling with beautiful stained glass. Everything is preserved to maintain the spirit of other times. Thus, the experience of entering a historic place is preserved.Therefore, more than just enjoying its beauty and architecture, the atmosphere of being in a place that has been frequented by so many people, and so many different times, and that still continues today as a meeting point of the city of Rio, is the great thing of be there.

Rio de Janeiro Historic City Center - Fala Aí - Portuguese School
Site Cafeteria Colombo
  1. Lapa
    Main postcard of the most bohemian region of Rio de Janeiro, the lapa arches were built in the 18th century by slaves and Indians to distribute water from the sources of the Rio Carioca. Currently Avenida Men de Sá, Rua Riachuelo, Gomes Freire and Lavradio are the paradise of night owls, who love drinks and beers all night and enjoy different musical rhythms in many nightclubs.Famous concert venues such as Circo Voador and Fundição Progresso share space with bars and nightclubs that play from funk to rock in a lively atmosphere and visited every weekend by tourists from all over the world.
Rio de Janeiro Historic City Center - Fala Aí - Portuguese School
Bruna Prado – MTur

10.Porto Maravilha
Our last suggestion for a tour through the historic center of Rio de Janeiro is a recently renovated attraction, the Porto Maravilha region corresponds to the new region of the port area, which has been completely remodeled and today has a huge free area where the VLT (Light Vehicle on Trails), beautiful museums and other cultural centers.The port area is part of the center, but also in adjacent neighborhoods such as Santo Cristo, Gamboa, Caju, São Cristovão, Saúde and Cidade Nova. The photo shows the Museum of Tomorrow, one of the recent cultural symbols of the region.

Rio de Janeiro Historic City Center - Fala Aí - Portuguese School
Bruna Prado – MTur