Full of Historic Buildings and Museums and also Restaurants, Bars, Nightclubs and Samba Clubs

Centro also known as Downtown Rio is the most important region and financial hub of Rio. Eletrobras, Vale and Pertrobras are key Brazilian companies whose headquarters is situated here. The city's prominent churches, monuments, museums and squares are also found here. Lapa, a funky neighborhood is in Centro. Hence, the Centro-Lapa area is a historical center of Rio.

A Host of Monuments and Squares

a Host of Monuments and Squares

In the Centro-Lapa region you will find the 'National History Museum' which is regarded as one amongst the finest museums in Rio. It exhibits about 250,000 relics that cite Brazil's history. The 'Museu de Arte Moderna' although destroyed completely in 1978, houses about 11,000 pieces which include the works of Bruno Giorgi and Maria Martins. The Museum also conducts special photography exhibitions and film festivals.

Formerly the head office of 'Banco do Brasil', the 'Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil' in Centro- Lapa, is an opulent structure which is now used as a cultural center. This domed building should be in your list of visits. The CCBB is today a key cultural center in the city with three theatres, a bookstore, a video hall, two auditoriums, a coffee shop and a restaurant.

'The Navy Cultural Center' in Centro-Lapa is assured to delight marine and naval enthusiasts. This Center situated on 'Av. Alfredo Agache' has beautiful models of wartime ships. Outside the Center you can find a destroyer used in the second World War and a submarine of the 1970s.

Christian Places of Worship

Brazil has the world's largest number of Catholics hence Rio has numerous churches with great architecture. In Centro-Lapa is the 'Igreja Nossa Senhora da Candelaria', a legendary church. It is said that a sailor along with other Spaniards in a ship called Candelaria pulled through a heavy storm and pledged to construct a church in gratitude. This spectacular church in Centro-Lapa has Italian marble, bronze pulpits and windows of stained glass.

'The Convento de Santo Antonio' also in Centro-Lapa is Rio's oldest church built in 1620. It boasts of gorgeous ceiling frescos and marble statues. 'The Catedral de Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro' is also known as Catedral Metropolitana. This is one of the great examples of Brazilian architecture. Four massive windows of stained glass encircle the church and diffuse in sunlight. The Archbishop's house is in this Cathedral in Centro-Lapa.

Praca XV Square

Situated in the center of the metropolis' old seafront, is Rio's key square the Praca XV. This is a historical milestone of Centro-Lapa where emperors and governors lived and the Brazilian nation was proclaimed on November 15, 1889. Kings Dom Pedro I and II were crowned here. Built in 1743, the Praca Imperial is the dominant structure in the square. Portugal's royalty resided in this palace. Today, the palace hosts exhibits of contemporary art, apparatus from ships and ancient weapons. Overlooking the palace courtyard is a coffee shop and eatery called Bistro do Paco. Beside the Paco Imperial is 'The Tiradentes Palace' with Greek columns and a huge dome. Brazil's legislative assembly is here and also a statue of Joaquim Jose da Silva Xavier, an important representative of the revolution.

Ilha Fiscal Palace

The 'Ilha Fiscal Palace is in the Bay of Guanabara off Praca XV in Centro-Lapa. This ceramic castle in green has a fairytale ambience. But it was constructed to be the head office of the country's Customs Service. The island is famous for having the final official ball of the Empire before it became a republic.

Stores for Music lovers and Bookworms

Centro-Lapa is the hub for music and bookstores. 'Emporio Musicale' is a music lover's dream. You can get innumerable old records of Brazil's music or some classic samba music. Another excellent music store in Centro-Lapa is 'Casa Oliveira' which sells music that covers the rhythm section of the Carnival parades. You can also get a variety of musical instruments here. 'The Berinjela' is another store that sells unusual CDs of the Samba.

'Livraria Imperial' is another store in Centro-Lapa that sells both music CDs and books. 'The Livraria Leonardo da Vinci' is a store in Centro-Lapa that has a large collection of books on foreign languages, photography and art books.

'Livraria Rio Antigo' on 'Rua do Rosario' is a 75-year old store that specializes in historic and rare books. Auctions of invaluable books are held periodically.


Centro-Lapa has a wide selection of cafes and restaurants. 'Cais do Oriente' restaurant is a fine place to dine. It is built on a renovated 19th century depot. You'll enjoy the serene music in the backdrop that offers a soothing effect. The interior of the restaurant is made of wood and brick and together with the wicker furniture gives it an antique look. This expensive restaurant serves both Mediterranean and Eastern dishes.

From its commencement in 1894, the 'Confeitaria Colombo' confectioners in Centro-Lapa has retained its essence, that of quality and service while preserving the artistic heritage. You can get crispy snacks, tea and sandwiches. 'Via Sete Grelhados ' is a restaurant that is frequented by the working class and provides good and fast service.

Shopping for the Carnival

Shopping in Centro-Lapa is exciting. You can find a variety of things that will tempt anyone. A group of lanes collectively called Saara surrounds 'Rua Alfandega'. Here you can shop for anything from Carnival stuff to even kitchen sinks. It is worthwhile to spend your morning here to experience the cultural ambience and to get a few bargains.

For those who wish to make their Carnival attire more exciting and creative, 'Casa Turuna' in Centro-Lapa is the place to go. Set up in 1920, this store sells everything you require for the Carnival like feathers, headdress, fabric, beads etc.

Centro - the Center of all Activity at Carnival Time

The Carnival in Rio is the main reason why tourists flock to this part of the world. The Carnival is the key event in Rio and Centro-Lapa as in the other neighborhoods. The Sambaland is a vast open area that brings life to Praca Onze. Sambaland is formally inaugurated before the commencement of the Carnival. In the 'Arches of Lapa' there are surprises that feature various concerts from Brazilian tunes to the most recent trends.

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