With its futuristic Mayan pyramid-inspired design, this modern 20,000-capacity cathedral is a striking feature in the Rio de Janeiro cityscape.
The immense Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro) looks markedly different to most other Catholic cathedrals. Marvel at the mammoth pyramid-shaped structure from the outside and enter the interior to see the fabulous floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows, which are particularly stunning when the sun shines in through them.
The cathedral was the brainchild of architect Edgar Fonseca, who took inspiration from the design of ancient Mayan temples. Construction on the cathedral began in the late 1960s and lasted for 12 years.
Although the concrete, glass and steel conical form of the cathedral is eye-catching from the outside, the real eye-popping features are to be found inside. Enter the cathedral to get a real sense of its scale. Measuring 75 meters (246 feet) in height and with an internal diameter of 96 meters (315 feet), the cathedral can host 5,000 seated worshippers and a whopping 20,000 standing.
Examine the four floor-to-ceiling strips of colorful stained-glass windows, which ascend up the edges of the cathedral’s walls. Note how they join at the top to form a cross-shaped skylight through which the sun’s rays often pour through to great effect. The church also features several other murals and sculptures, though these tend to be overshadowed by the vivid stained glass. In stark contrast to the modern style of the building itself, the wooden pews are traditional in style.
Descend into the basement level of the cathedral to access the Museu de Arte Sacra. Browse the religious-themed objects on show here, including a baptismal font that was used in a royal christening and the throne of Dom Pedro II, the last ruler of the Empire of Brazil. A statue of Mother Teresa can also be seen outside the front of the cathedral.
Find the Catedral Metropolitana in central Rio, not far from Bonde Station. The cathedral is open daily, from early morning until evening. The museum has limited opening hours on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday only. Entrance to the cathedral is free. Pay a small fee to enter the basement museum.