The tour of the churches in Rio includes a modest selection of the most magnificent religious temples in downtown Rio, enabling you to go back in time via architectural styles ranging from colonial to baroque, passing through Renaissance influences, from neo-gothic to modernity.

Tourist Itinerary

Welcome to the Marvelous City! We have developed a tour in Downtown Rio to see some of Rio de Janeiro’s most stunning churches.

Religious tourism is a very active kind of tourism that, in addition to fulfilling spiritual demands, offers the opportunity to experience the cultural and historical richness of the city. Rio de Janeiro’s churches contain treasures!

Convento e Igreja de Santo Antônio

On January 20, 1964, the Cathedral’s cornerstone was blessed and set by D. Jaime de Barros Camara, the Supreme Pontiff S.S. Pope Paul VI. It was launched on August 15, 1979, with architect Edgar de Oliveira da Fonseca as its designer.

It has an outside height of 75 meters and an interior height of 64 meters, an exterior diameter of 106 meters and an interior diameter of 96 meters, a total surface of 8,000 square meters, and the ability to hold 20,000 people standing or 5,000 people sitting.

The 18-meter-tall main entrance is adorned with 48 bronze plates in bas-relief depicting religious themes.

The social, cultural, and religious structure was inspired by the Mayan pyramid of Chichén Itzá, situated on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. In contrast to the Mayan structure, which has a square foundation, it has a round and conical form. The four stained glass windows (each measuring 64.50 x 17.80 x 9.60 meters) that seem to be encircled by concrete strands represent the four defining attributes of the church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

Emphasis is placed on the fountain used to baptize the princes of the Royal Family, the statue of N.S. do Rosário, the throne of D.Pedro II, and the Golden Rose given to Princess Isabel by Pope Leo XIII to commemorate his signature of the Act for the Abolition of Slavery in Brazil.

 

Igreja da Ordem Terceira da São Francisco da Penitência

One of Brazil’s finest examples of Portuguese-Brazilian Baroque and Rococo Art.

The Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi, commonly known as Saint Francis of Penitence, was founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1619 and first functioned in the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceiço, inside the convent church. Construction of the present church, located to the right of the monastery, started in the 17th century, but accelerated in the 18th century. 1748 marks the completion of the church’s construction.

The structure differs from the typical form of churches constructed in Brazil during the colonial era in that it consists of three independent bodies with distinct roofs. The lack of towers and bells, as ordered by the friars of the adjoining monastery, adds to its originality. This spectacular design was created in record time, between 1726 and 1743, by Portuguese painters who were lured to the colony by the economic prosperity brought by the shipment of gold from Minas Gerais via Rio de Janeiro. Along with the sense of wealth created by the glimmering gold in a semi-dark setting, the visitor quickly perceives the harmony of a complete decorative ensemble in which nothing was left to chance. Carving, painting, and sculptural pictures are in perfect harmony since they all belong to the D. Joao V. Baroque style.

The dominant motif of the nave painting is the exaltation of Saint Francis of Assisi, shown with seraph wings in a halo of light and surrounded by clouds and cherubs. In the chancel, the saint of Assisi is shown kneeling before Christ and the Virgin Mary, a sight visible through a skylight-like hole in the middle of the vault.

In the sacristy, which is located to the right of the church and accessible through a side door in the sub-choir, the main attractions are the beautiful rococo chest, which contains one of the most expressive Crucified in Rio de Janeiro, and the ceiling paintings in curvilinear panels, both by José de Oliveira Rosa.

 

Igreja de São Francisco de Paula

 

The old São Francisco de Paula Church is in Largo de São Francisco. Frei Antônio Antônio do Desterro, a Benedictine monk, formed in Rio de Janeiro in 1754 the Venerable Order of the Minims of So Francisco de Paula, who were ardent devotees of the Holy Patriarch.

Emperor D. Pedro II and Dona Teresa Cristina were present during the 1865 inauguration, which took place with much ceremony. Among several other donors is João de Siqueira Costa, who devoted himself totally to the Church’s work and whose mortal bones repose under the high altar.

The layout of the church includes a single nave, a large chancel, side aisles with altars adhered to the sides, a sacristy, a consistory, and a chapel for novices.

Built in the neoclassical style, the church has an impressive front composed of three parts divided by exquisite masonry pillars, ornamented up to the broad eaves, and reflective of the traditional Portuguese architecture.

The exterior is intricate, with a curved stone pediment supported by Tuscan-style columns. In the two towers coated in colourful tiles and covered with bulbs, there are four bell towers, each with two clocks. Mestre Valentim is credited for carving both the chancel and the private chapel of N.S. da Vitória, both belonging to the last phase of the building’s construction. The paintings on the walls were created by Manoel da Cunha, a former slave who was able to refine his skills in Europe and purchase his freedom with the proceeds from his art.

Igreja Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Antiga Sé

The history of the Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Antiga Sé and Brazil are linked. The Old Cathedral was the site of some of the most significant historical events, including the coronations of Dom Pedro I and Dom Pedro II and royal marriages.

A tiny church dedicated to Nossa Senhora do was constructed a few years after the Portuguese takeover. Around 1590, when the Carmelite order came to Brazil, they took the Benedictine facilities, including the church, which they renamed the Chapel of the Order of Carmo. In 1619, the friars started construction of a convent next to the chapel and connected the two structures by a concierge tower, which was eventually destroyed to enlarge Rua Sete de Setembro (the existing tower is from the 20th century, built by Cardinal Green arch). The two-story, thirteen-windowed monastery facing Praca XV would eventually be inhabited by Queen Maria. The chapel, which had fallen into disrepair, collapsed in 1761, when a new temple was constructed.

Master Inácio Ferreira Pinto crafted the exquisite Rococo-style gilded sculptures. Regarding the exterior, only the first level of the facade with its three Pombaline-style portals remains intact. When he landed in Brazil in 1808, D. João VI converted this chapel into the Royal Chapel. The royal family moved into the Imperial Palace in Praca XV, formerly known as the Palace of the Viceroys.

Before the Metropolitan Cathedral was opened in 1976, the Old Cathedral was the site of some of the most significant occasions in Brazil’s history. After the death of Dona Maria I in 1816, the church received a new bell and a new bell tower on March 20, 1816, for the coronation of D. João VI as king. Later, on December 10, 1822, with D. Pedro I’s coronation as emperor and Brazil’s independence from Portugal, the chapel was renamed the Imperial Chapel. The cathedral hosted the coronation of D. Pedro II as well as all royal marriages, including Princess Isabel’s marriage to Louis Philippe Gaston d’Orléans, Count D’Eu on October 15, 1864. The church was restored by Cardinal D. Joaquim Arcoverde and inaugurated as the Metropolitan Cathedral on May 1, 1900, after the formation of the republic.

 

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Lapa dos Mercadores

Rua do Ouvidor, one of the oldest streets in Rio de Janeiro, was the site of an oratory dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Lapa, where merchants congregated to worship, until construction of the Church started in 1747. In 1750, it was dedicated, and it was finished five years later. Between 1869 and 1872, the temple’s exterior was restored, the bell tower was constructed, and the interior carvings were finished.

The bottom of the Church facade consists of three arches. The top portion is the product of repairs performed since 1869, following a design by Antônio de Pádua e Castro, which gave it a classic appearance. It consists of three wide windows with marble railings and niches with sculptures of Saint Bernard and Saint Adriano from Lisbon. Between the two is a carved marble medallion showing the coronation of the Virgin that was discovered during excavations.

In 1893, towards the beginning of the second Armada Revolt, a bullet struck the bell tower, forcing one of the church’s sculptures to tumble to the ground. Even after falling more than 25 meters, this one sustained little damage, which at the time was considered a miracle. The painting and the missile remain on display in the sacristy to this day.

The interior decoration was completed in two phases; the first, which corresponds to the altarpiece of the chancel and the crossing arch, was completed towards the end of the 18th century and features Rococo characteristics. Antônio Alves Meira’s stucco work embellishing the domes of the nave and chancel, and Antônio de Pádua e Castro’s work on the altarpieces in the nave, pulpits, and choir, are seen as occurring about 1870-1872.

 

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Candelária

 

Rua do Ouvidor, one of the oldest streets in Rio de Janeiro, was the site of an oratory dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Lapa, where merchants congregated to worship, until construction of the Church started in 1747. In 1750, it was dedicated, and it was finished five years later. Between 1869 and 1872, the temple’s exterior was restored, the bell tower was constructed, and the interior carvings were finished.

The bottom of the Church facade consists of three arches. The top portion is the product of repairs performed since 1869, following a design by Antônio de Pádua e Castro, which gave it a classic appearance. It consists of three wide windows with marble railings and niches with sculptures of Saint Bernard and Saint Adriano from Lisbon. Between the two is a carved marble medallion showing the coronation of the Virgin that was discovered during excavations.

In 1893, towards the beginning of the second Armada Revolt, a bullet struck the bell tower, forcing one of the church’s sculptures to tumble to the ground. Even after falling more than 25 meters, this one sustained little damage, which at the time was considered a miracle. The painting and the missile remain on display in the sacristy to this day.

The interior decoration was completed in two phases; the first, which corresponds to the altarpiece of the chancel and the crossing arch, was completed towards the end of the 18th century and features Rococo characteristics. Antônio Alves Meira’s stucco work embellishing the domes of the nave and chancel, and Antônio de Pádua e Castro’s work on the altarpieces in the nave, pulpits, and choir, are seen as occurring about 1870-1872.

 

Mosteiro de São Bento – Igreja Nossa Senhora do Monserrate

Twenty-four years after the city was built, two monks from the Monastery of Bahia constructed the Monastery of So Bento do Rio de Janeiro in 1590. It was the second religious order to establish a residence in Rio de Janeiro, with only the Jesuits preceding the Benedictines. During 1596, the Monastery was already established in its current location, having been built in Abbey at the time. Its patron saint is Nossa Senhora do Monserrate, and it is a member of the Brazilian Benedictine Congregation, which now consists of seven male and sixteen female monasteries.

Built in the Baroque-Renaissance style, the church’s interior displays the three eras of Brazilian Baroque. The outside of the temple is plain, in contrast to its lavish interior. As you ascend the hill of São Bento, you can see the harmonious coexistence of the natural environment and the austerity of the monastery complex. In the strict symmetry, vertical and horizontal stonework divisions in the middle of the facade with its triangular pediment, flanked by towers and crowned with pyramids, austerity and classicism related to mannerism are obvious. The three arched arcades, which create a covered portico, are Benedictine in origin, but the contemporary railings are made of German iron.

Richness of the interior is reflected in the baroque carvings of the main altar, the cross arch, and the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, which have phytomorphic designs wrapped in gold and rococo flourishes. The vaulted ceiling of the center nave and the rectangular painting on marbled paneling date to the 18th century. Mestre Valentim da Fonseca e Silva is the creator of the molds for the enormous, 227-kilogram silver lights that flank the crossing bridge.

By virtue of the monks’ cloister regulations, the monastery and sacristy may only be accessed at certain hours and by males.

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