6 Reasons to Add the Royal Portuguese Reading Room to Your Bookish Bucket List

Posted by Hayley on September 22, 2015

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?

Comments Showing 1-50 of 77 (77 new)


message 2: by Dr Rashmit (new)

Dr Rashmit Mishra OK breaking my savings account , i MUST VISIT THIS PLACE ASAP


message 3: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Would love to visit!!


message 4: by Betsy (new)

Betsy What an amazing place. It's nice to know such places exist--even if I can't understand Portuguese.


message 5: by Luís (new)

Luís C. How nice to see my twin-country represented here ..


message 6: by Ted (new)

Ted Fantastic. If I ever visit Rio, this is a must place to see!


message 7: by Luís (new)

Luís C. Ted wrote: "Fantastic. If I ever visit Rio, this is a must place to see!"

You are totally right and I agree with you..


message 8: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Too bad I didn't know this existed when I was in Rio.


message 9: by Laurie (new)

Laurie I visited here last summer. Awesome, in the true sense of the word.


message 10: by Carolina (new)

Carolina Morales Betsy wrote: "What an amazing place. It's nice to know such places exist--even if I can't understand Portuguese."

Portuguese is not that difficult. Plus, there is plenty of material in foreign languages there.


message 11: by FaeryMeganChase (new)

FaeryMeganChase I'd rather go there any day instead of school :)


message 12: by The book lover (new)

The book lover Wish all school's had this library! have to go there one day. going on my bucket list


message 13: by Fernando (new)

Fernando Ferreira The most beautiful building in Rio de Janeiro.


message 14: by Ashli (new)

Ashli Barrera OHMYGOD!!!!!! ITS SO AWESOME!!!!!!! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D


message 15: by Annie (new)

Annie It's magical. I truly want to do a vacation where I can travel and just visit libraries. Royal reading Room added. It's like a dream come true.


message 16: by Gia (new)

Gia *drools*


Ertica*~She'sABookBirdy~*Castley Pinch me im dreaming:o:o


message 18: by Ken (new)

Ken This can be my church.


message 19: by Mahmut (new)

Mahmut Homsi This is a piece of heaven :))


message 20: by Raoofa (new)

Raoofa Ibrahim Rio isn't really a safe place to go to , that's why my mom didn't approve to go there. If I knew they have this library i'd go walking !


message 21: by Ms Miaow (new)

Ms Miaow Wow! And I thought my book collection was big!


message 22: by Nate (new)

Nate H. Simply majestic.


Ertica*~She'sABookBirdy~*Castley Kenneth wrote: "This can be my church."

You bet it would!!!


message 24: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Attempting to pick my jaw up off the floor!! This is unbelievable, extraordinary, beyond beautiful! ♡In awe♡


message 25: by Jonathas (new)

Jonathas Soares Raoofa wrote: "Rio isn't really a safe place to go to , that's why my mom didn't approve to go there. If I knew they have this library i'd go walking !"

You live in Jordan and you think Rio is not safe? Really??


message 26: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante I really need to get another passport... Time for me to start traveling for pleasure, and not just work - and this seems like an ideal excuse!


message 27: by Laura (new)

Laura Thank you for this - just in awe!


message 28: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Beautiful. An inspiration.


message 29: by Rafael (last edited Sep 22, 2015 09:51PM) (new)

Rafael Wingnux Rio resident here and the building is indeed amazing! It's like a small Hogwarts. I never get tired of photographing it, from both inside and outside.


message 30: by Yash (new)

Yash Sinojia Woa! Best Place to read..


message 31: by Joshie (new)

Joshie Oh my, this is just stunning. I hope I could visit this place before I die.


message 32: by Shamim (last edited Sep 24, 2015 09:45PM) (new)

Shamim E. Haque fabulous place! We, the book lovers, are ever grateful to the people, and the forces that there be, for constructing such fabulous places to celebrate the power of the printed word, the activity we call reading! A must see if I ever make it to Rio!


message 33: by Rachel (new)

Rachel With the pictures given here, an explanation was not necessary! This is soo cool!


message 34: by Carolina (new)

Carolina Morales Jonathas wrote: "Raoofa wrote: "Rio isn't really a safe place to go to , that's why my mom didn't approve to go there. If I knew they have this library i'd go walking !"

You live in Jordan and you think Rio is not..."


My thoughts exactly.


message 35: by Seagirl89 (new)

Seagirl89 And this is how haven looks like !


message 36: by Sorobai (new)

Sorobai Portugal!


Ertica*~She'sABookBirdy~*Castley I wonder if theres a secret door or a secret passage way. Hey, Im just guessing


message 38: by Sorobai (new)

Sorobai It is possible, after all it's a romantic style building even if using neomanualino and neogotic styles. In the case there is it would be originaly for the pure esthetic prupose of it but it could have been used otherwise in the more recent past.


message 39: by Kaaren (new)

Kaaren Nafar What's the point if one knows no Portuguese.


message 40: by Sorobai (new)

Sorobai A good starting point would be to learn it. I know no chinese but I apreciate immensly the chinese great wall as well as Confucios books, although as far as I know there is no original one surviving I would like to see one.


message 41: by Souad (new)

Souad wooow very beautiful insh allah i will visited this place


message 42: by Doseofbella (new)

Doseofbella A piece of heaven.


message 43: by Nidhi (new)

Nidhi Bhatt Love this library! have to visit soon...


message 44: by Rose (new)

Rose Rocha dos Santos So near my home! *_*


message 45: by Nezcha (new)

Nezcha Humongous!
Now here it is..the infinity.


message 46: by Gin (new)

Gin Tadvick Now on my bucket list!!!


message 47: by Charysse (new)

Charysse To visit here would be a dream come true.


message 48: by Kay (new)

Kay J Oh my! That is gorgeous!!!!!!! I'd love to visit this place.


message 49: by Claudia (new)

Claudia Luís wrote: "How nice to see my twin-country represented here .."

Yes! I am Brazilian and I never knew about this beautiful library.


message 50: by Leslie (new)

Leslie This looks so awesome I would love to see something like this in person. Indeed this would be a dream come true, I'll put it on my bucket list.


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