Rio de Janeiro is one of the richest places of Brazil when we talk about culture and history and it is full of historic buildings. See the selection of the best historic places of Rio de Janeiro
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Historic places in Rio de Janeiro

Rio is one of the richest places of Brazil when we talk about history and culture. The city that was the capital of Brazil for the longest time.  The city that received the Portuguese Royal Family in 1808 and later became the only of Americas to the capital of a European Kingdom. Because of this rich history, they built many of important constructions. Unfortunately, Rio demolished most of its colonial style, although some of the buildings were preserved. In this post, we will talk about these historic places in Rio de Janeiro.

 Downtown of Rio de Janeiro

This is the place with the biggest concentration of historic buildings in Rio de Janeiro. When the Portuguese arrived in Rio, pirate invasions were commons, so they reinforced the security of the city. Initially the foundation of the city was in Urca, close to the Sugar Loaf. Although when they realized the danger of pirates invasions they moved to downtown, where there were four hills (Castelo Hill, São Bento Hill, Conceição Hill and Santo Antônio Hill) that made the natural protection of the city

Here it goes a list of historic places that remain in downtown

Paço Imperial

Built to be the residence of the governors of Rio de Janeiro’s capitany. When the royal family arrived in 1808 the place was promoted to Paço Real (Royal Palace) and became the residence of Portuguese Royal family. Brazil became independent the place was again promoted to Paço Imperial (Imperal Palace), it was in this period that two important events to Brazilian history happened here: I stay day and the abolition of slavery. For its historic importance and its style, the Paço Imperial is considered one of the most important civilians colonials building in Brazil.
Get to know more about Paço Imperial


Lapa Arches

Rio de Janeiro had problems with water supply. To solve this problem, they built the Lapa Arches, which used to take water from Carioca River, in Santa Teresa to Largo da Carioca. Today the place is one of the main touristic points of Lapa and of the city.

Discover everything about Lapa Arches in this text


Rio downtown is full of amazing churches. That is because besides de fact that the population was very catholic, the society divided the churches according the social class and the colour of who frequented it. Below a few pictures of the most beautiful churches of Rio downtown:


Mosteiro de São Bento

Igreja São Francisco da Penitência
Igreja Nossa Senhora do Monte Carmo
Igreja Nossa Senhora da Lapa dos Mercadores


Travessa do Comércio

This charming street, closed to cars, is one of the only of downtown that preserved the colonial mansions of Rio de Janeiro. The entrance of the street is by the Telles Arches.


Telles Arches

When they started to build their mansion in downtown, the Telles family realized it would close the entrance to Travessa do Comércio. The solution was to build an arches right at the middle of the construction.


Colombo Bakery

Colombo Bakery was a place of sophistication and modernity, in the streets lightened with gas lamps, the trams and the intense traffic on the streets of downtown. The details of the interior of the Bakery are interesting and they are built with pieces of many parts of the world. Here important frequented important people to the history of our country as our former presidents Getúlio Vargas and Juscelino Kubistchek.
Read the details about Colombo Bakery here!


Tiradentes Palace


The former headquarters of Brazilian National Congress is this wonderful palace. Between the years of 1926 and 1960 all the elected presidents took office in this place.


Real Gabinete Português de Literatura

Elected the 4ªmost beautiful library in the world in 2014 by the Time magazine, the place is an institution that aims to preserve the history of Portugal in Brazil.
Read more about Real Gabinete Português de literatura


Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB)

One of the most important cultural centers of Brazil. Built to be the headquarters of the commercial association of Rio de Janeiro, it became later the headquarters of Banco do Brasil. In 1960, when the capital moved to Brasilia the place became a luxury bank agency. Twenty years later the place became a cultural center.



If you want to feel in the past and dive into the history of Rio Downtown in fun and interactive way, join our free walking tour of Downtown and Lapa

 Docks area of Rio de Janeiro

Recently elected one of the most cool places o the world, the docks area has great historical importance, especially when we talk about the back culture in Brazil. Imagine a small area where the old slaves harbour is located, where people played the first samba, with a futuristic museum, the biggest graffiti of the world made by one man and a walk in front of the sea. Welcome to Docks Area.

Cais do Valongo

Cais do Valongo has a huge connection with the slaver period in Brazil. This place was the harbour of Rio, where the slaves’ boats landed, after stopping at the customs. The place has the title of National Heritage by UNESCO. Cais do Valongo has received about one million of slaves in about 40 years, what turned it the harbour that most received slaves in the world.


Pedra do Sal

Religious historical monument of great value to the Brazilian black culture. Pedra do Sal is located at Morro da Conceição, at Mauá Square, that used to work as an old harbour of discharge of salt around 1608.
For the influence of the place residency and at the intention to preserve the cultural memory of XIX century, Pedra do Sal is considered the “birth of the samba”.


Largo de São Francisco da Prainha

Before the construction of Rio de Janeiro harbours, there was a small beach there, that extended until where today is Praça Mauá. On the renovation of Pereira Passos where the city was grounded, the beach disappeared. The Largo received its name because it is located close to São Francisco da Prainha church.

The place was known by the meetings of zungús, back workers, enslaved or free, that got together to eat, drum up or practice its religion, having a huge relevance to continue the culture and religion of the blacks. However, that zangú also was formed by back man, including foreign, revealing the cultural exchange that happened in the city.


Do you want to know more about the docks area? Join our Free Walking Tour of Docks Area

Quinta da boa vista

Quinta da Boa Vista is one of the biggest urban parks in Rio de Janeiro. Located in the neighbourhood of São Cristóvão, North Zone of Rio, it was the residence of Portuguese Royal Family between 1808 and 1889, year of proclamation of the republic.

Quinta also shelters the National Museum, the oldest scientific institution of Brazil, that is being fixed up after a fire. quinta-da-boa-vista

South Zone


Forte Nossa Senhora de Copacabana

Built when Rio was already capita of Brazil, with the aim to protect the city of possible invasions through Guanabara bay. Today the fort shelters a museum of the army and it has a Colombo Bakery, perfect place to have a breakfast. The place lets anyone jaw dropping.


Botanical Garden

Built more than 200 years ago, when the Portuguese Royal Family came to Brazil, the Botanical Garden is famous by the exuberance and importance of its plants colections, as the beauty of its landscapes

Get to know more of Jardim Botânico 


Lage Park


The place was residence of the nobles and aristocrats and it has different environments: the Roman Palace, main attraction and where people take the famous Instagram pictures, part of Tijuca Forest, gardens, an aquarium and caves. The entrance is free.

Discover more about Lage Park 


Leme Fort

Leme Fort has a beautiful panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro and a lot of history! The access is made by a light trail. The entrance is free every Tuesday. The value of the other days is R$4,00 (entire) and R$2,00 (half)


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