Surrounding this central square are Rio’s historic buildings, including its impressive opera house, its world-class library and one of its most beloved bars.
Get a glimpse of an older Rio de Janeiro at the centrally located square of Cinelândia. Named after the many cinemas once located here when it was the flashy modern center of Rio, today Cinelândia holds many of the city’s oldest and grandest structures. Watch a performance at Brazil’s premier opera house, explore the shelves of Latin America’s largest library and see work by some of Brazil’s most famous artists.
The crowning structure of Cinelândia is the Theatro Municipal. Since 1909, this opera house has stood high over the north side of the square. Modeled after the Paris Opera, the building is full of impressive features. See the giant gold eagle sculpture standing at the center of the roof. Pass by the building at night to see the illuminated stained-glass windows lining the façade. Take a guided tour to see the recently refurbished interior, which is adorned with gold. Tours are available from Tuesday through Saturday.
Walk next door to see the Old National Library on the square’s east side. The millions of books held within this early 19th-century structure make it Latin America’s largest library and the seventh largest in the world. Walk up the main staircase, browse the shelves and take a peaceful break in one of the grand reading rooms.
The National Fine Arts Museum (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes) stands just north. Browse the selections from the museum’s massive 70,000-piece collection to get a comprehensive introduction to the history of Brazilian visual art. Find works by Brazil’s modernist painters, like Cândido Portinari’s Coffee.
The official name of Cinelândia is Floriano Peixoto Square (Praça Floriano Peixoto), after Brazil’s second president. See the monument to President Peixoto in the center of the square.
Make sure to have at least one of your meals in Rio de Janeiro at Restaurant Amarelinho. Established in 1921, this bar on the first floor of an unmistakable yellow building abutting Cinelândia is an iconic Rio establishment. Have a Brazilian dish alongside a pizza and a cold brew.
Cinelândia is best reached by metro, since a stop stands at its center.