Preserving Portuguese literature and language in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading houses a stunning collection of works. Three stories of books line every wall, flanking a central study area inside a richly detailed Gothic-Renaissance building.
The library was founded in 1837 by a group of Portuguese emigrants shortly after Brazil’s independence from Portugal. The new country had been a colony of Portugal since the 1500s, and the Portuguese community sought to preserve and promote its culture in the face of dramatic change. The resulting association was the first Portuguese cultural association in the city.
Architect Rafael da Silva e Castro designed the headquarters, built between 1880 and 1887 in the Neomanueline style. This style evokes the Gothic Renaissance architecture popular at the time of the Portuguese Discoveries, named “Manueline” for coinciding with the reign of King Manuel (1495-1521).
Open to the public since 1900, the library has the largest collection of Portuguese works outside Portugal. Among the 350,000+ volumes are many rarities, including original manuscripts and singular works. The ever-growing collection also includes several important paintings and other objects of cultural interest.
In July 2014, Time Magazine ranked the library as the 4th the most beautiful in the world. The library is also listed as a State Institute of Cultural Heritage.