National Library

Cultural Centers - Rio de Janeiro


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The history of the National Library began with the arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family and the Royal Court to Rio de Janeiro in 1808, after Napoleon Bonaparte troops invaded Portugal. The Royal Family brought along a collection of sixty thousand works among books, manuscripts, maps, prints, coins and medals which were initially stored inside a room at the Hospital of the Convent of the Third Order of Carmel, in downtown Rio de Janeiro.

The Royal Library was open to the public in 1814 and is one of the ten largest libraries in the world according to Unesco and is listed by Iphan (National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage) and Inepac (State Institute of Cultural Heritage). It is considered the largest in Latin America, with a collection of nine million works. The current building architectural style is eclectic. It was opened in 1910 and it has rarities among its items, some only displayed in special exhibitions. The Bible of Mainz, of 1462, is the first publication which contains a date, place of printing and the publisher's name on the colophon. The Portuguese Language Grammar from 1539 is the publication that precedes the João de Barros Grammar. The first edition of Os Lusíadas (1572) by Luís de Camões, printed in Lisbon, is also kept there.

 There are original music sheets of Carlos Gomes operas, such as "O Guarani", "Fosca", "Maria Tudor" and "Salvador Rosa". A collection of acts from the government, general captains and viceroys is archived, along with Portuguese Royal Court correspondence from the 17th and 18th centuries. A collection of 17 thousand music sheets and publications on music from the 17th and 18th centuries is also part of the collection. There also are Greek Gospels book from the 11th century. The collection was digitized in 2006 and works can be accessed through the Library's website.

The National Library is also on Facebook.


General Information

Address: Rio Branco Avenue, 219, downtown Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro
Phone: (+55 21) 2220-9484/3095-3881
E-mail address:
Opening hours:

Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm; Saturday, from 9am to 5pm; Sunday, from 12pm to 5pm. Guided tours are 40 minutes long, from Monday to Friday from 11am to 3pm. Group guided tours under appointment.

Secretaria de Cultura do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Petrobras

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