6 Reasons to Add the Royal Portuguese Reading Room to Your Bookish Bucket List
Nestled in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, the Royal Portuguese Reading Room is a dazzling Gothic ode to literature, a shrine to the majesty of books. This isn't like your hometown library. (And if it is, can you give us the address?) This is the king of libraries—and we can't wait to visit.
Reason #1: The Reading Room is surrounded on all sides by three stories of books.
Jorge Luis Borges once wrote, "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." If Paradise looks like the Royal Portuguese Reading Room, we have zero complaints.
Reason #2: It houses the largest collection of Portuguese works outside of Portugal.
You'll never want for reading material here. The library currently holds over 350,000 titles, and, in accordance with its status as a "legal deposit," it receives a copy of every new book published in Portugal. This results in around 6,000 books arriving overseas to the Brazilian library every year.
Reason #3: The "royal" in its name isn't just for show.
In our brave new world, virtually anything can call itself a royal something—Royal Cheeseburgers, Royal Caribbean Cruises, etc. But the Royal Portuguese Reading Room is royal because King Manuel II of Portugal granted the title to the library in 1906. (Brazilian Princess Isabel attended the building's inauguration in 1887, but she wasn't in the mood to hand out royal titles that day.)
Reason #4: It's an architectural wonderland designed by Rafael da Silva e Castro.
In 1887, the Portuguese architect unveiled his neo-Manueline vision, a Cathedral-like shrine to books bathed in light from a stained-glass dome and an wrought-iron chandelier. The dark wooden galleries evoke Gothic-Renaissance splendor and contain more than just books. Statues, art, maps, medallions, and more sweep readers back to Portugal's famed Age of Discovery.
Reason #5: The collection was started by homesick book lovers.
In the early 19th century, a trio of Portuguese immigrants began collecting books. They missed home and hoped bringing their country's culture to Brazil would help soothe their sadness.
Reason #6: The Reading Room is free to visit!
Put away your wallet, bookworms. This historical, cultural, and literary landmark won't cost you a penny. Doors are currently open to visitors Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Our ever-expanding bookish bucket list also includes the Bodleian Library and the Albena Beach Library! What should we add next?
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