Real Gabinete Portugues de Leitura

Royal Portuguese Reading Office, Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

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No one understands better a country and its history than when you understand its art and culture. And when you have moved enough and carried your own kids across the world or simply started your family in a place away from “home” you realize that you have the obligation to share everything you love, everything you know and everything about your past to give them the sense of history and belonging. Going back to the place where I was born and raised gives me that opportunity to share with my two kids the culture I learned and enjoyed all my life. Experiences like this open our minds to diversity.

I started them into this path at a very young age, visiting museums of art, history or natural science everywhere we go. Never heard a complain even when we walked miles a day. They may not remember everything they have seen in life but I’m sure they are growing a seed called curiosity, and that’s all I could have asked for.

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So we were visiting Rio de Janeiro and I had this library, Royal Portuguese Reading Office, on my list of places to see. This library sits on a “largo”, portuguese word that defines an open area, or a square, in the middle of various buildings. A white stone building in a Neo-Manueline style. Once you enter the building the experience is unexpected!

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The Royal Portuguese Reading Office was founded in 1837 by a group of 43 Portuguese immigrants who wanted to promote the Portuguese culture in their community in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Construction went from 1880 to 1887 and was open to the public in 1900.

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Its Gothic-Renaissance style was prevailing at the time of Portuguese explorations around the world, so you will find it here on the columns, arches, doorways, glass work, iron work, sky-light, and in every detail. Don’t rush… Just lose yourself into the building, get very close to those amazingly old books and imagine how many man hours it took to put this building together?

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The ceiling of the reading room presents a magnificent chandelier and skylight all in iron and glass.

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The Royal Office has the largest collection of Portuguese works outside Portugal, holding approximately 400,000 volumes. Many as old as the history of Brazil, for example: the first volume of “Os Lusiadas” from 1572.

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One of the most amazing libraries in the country and coming in 4th place among the 20 most beautiful libraries in the world.

This library is located at  Luis de Camoes street, number 30, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Marble floors, carved wood posts, limestone arches and the smell of books are hard to translate into words to describe the beauty of this place. The silence and the cool interior gives you a break from the heat and busy downtown streets of Rio.

I know most tourists come to Rio for the beaches, music, food and the incomparable happy energy that exudes from the people. But Rio has a lot more to offer, so make sure if you ever come here to visit, you meet people, make friends and find someone to be your guide. Brazilians love to share what they have!

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