Bookshelf of the Week: Real Gabinete Português de Leitura

Real Gabinete Portugues de Leitura. Picture credit: Brice Bonneau

Built between 1880-1887 and occupying a site in downtown Rio de Janiero, the subject for this edition of BookShelf of the Week is the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura (Royal Portuguese Reading Room).

The stunning image of the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, as captured by Brice Bonneau, shows at once the majesty and magnificence of the interior, as it stretches throughout its four stories from floor to ceiling, further emphasising the majesty of the place. And topping it off is the most breathtaking of skylights coupled with chandelier, which ensures that visitors have the perfect light with which to read. And with upwards of 350,000 volumes there is certainly plenty for the visitor to read as they take in the stunningly ornate interior of the building.

Designed by Portuguese architect Rafael da Silva e Castro on the orders of a group of Portuguese merchants living in Rio de Janeiro who had an interest in creating their own library, the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura is built in the Neo-Manueline style – a mid-to-late nineteenth-century revival of the Portuguese Final Gothic style (Manueline) of the 16th century. And if the interior of the building isn’t enough on its own to impress, then check out the building’s facade, which was inspired by the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, and carved in limestone in that city before being shipped to Rio.

If you’re thirsty for more then be sure to check out the other shots of the interior of the library that Mr. Bonneau has captured and kindly posted for us all to see. And if it’s a video tour of the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura that you’re looking for then look no further than this video presentation on Youtube. It’s in Portuguese I’m afraid but the visuals are simply stunning.

So, thoughts? Impressions? Have you ever had the pleasure of visiting this incredible library in Rio? Let me know in the comments below.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Wow, that’s really beautiful. The other pictures are great too. Thanks.

  2. What a divine place! Best, cat

  3. stujallen (Twitter: stujallen)

    stunning just stunning ,all the best stu