Located in the heart of the historical center of the city, today known as the Imperial Palace of Rio de Janeiro (in Portuguese Paço Imperial), it has had several names throughout its more than two and a half centuries of existence and has hosted important facts that marked the destiny of Brazil.
The House of Governors
In 1733, at the request of the then federal governor of Rio de Janeiro, Don Gomes Freire de Andrade, Count of Bobadela, the King of Portugal João V authorized the construction of the new Casa dos Governadores taking advantage of the facilities of what until then was the Royal Warehouse and the Moneyhouse.
The new residence of the governors was inaugurated in 1743 in the new dependencies that were added to the building, while the Royal Warehouse and the Moneyhouse continued to operate there in parallel until 1808.
Two decades after the inauguration of the new residence and seat of the government, the capital of the Viceroyalty of Brazil, which until then had been in Salvador de Bahia, was transferred to Rio de Janeiro, so the House of Governors became the Palace of the Viceroys (Paço dos Vice-Reis).
Headquarters of the royal and imperial government
With the arrival of the Portuguese court in Brazil in 1808, the palace acquired the status of Royal Palace and despite the fact that Don João VI only lived there while the remodeling and extension works of his new Palace were carried out in Quinta da Boa Vista , he kept his government office and even a Throne Room where he granted audiences and performed the traditional «kiss hands».
It was from the balcony of the Imperial Palace in Rio de Janeiro that on January 9, 1822 Don Pedro I announced that he would not return to Portugal but would remain in the country, contravening the orders of his father King João VI. That day became known as Dia do Fico and marked the beginning of the independence of Brazil.
With the country already independent of Portugal and named Empire of Brazil, the palace acquires the definitive name of Imperial Palace becoming office and eventual residence of the emperors of Brazil until the advent of the Republic.
It was also in this Imperial Palace that Princess Isabel signed on May 13, 1888 the Golden Law, definitively abolishing slavery.
Decadence of the Imperial Palace
The arrival of the Republic in Brazil caused the assets of the imperial family to be confiscated and auctioned.
At that time, the Imperial Palace of Rio de Janeiro lost its importance and the Central Post and Telegraph Office was installed there. As a result, the building suffered alterations and serious deterioration, losing all its rich interior decoration (stucco, paintings, furniture and an important number of works of art).
In 1938 the building was almost demolished and abandoned. It was not until 1982 when the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute decided to recover the Imperial Palace and restore its appearance in 1818.
The Imperial Palace Cultural Center
Currently, the building houses the Imperial Palace Cultural Center, a space open to the public where temporary exhibitions of painting, photography and other plastic arts are held, as well as presentations of plays, movies and concerts.
On the first floor is the Paulo Santos Library, which houses some 6,000 volumes of books specialized in Brazilian and Portuguese art and architecture.
Inside the cultural center there is a small bistro, the Bistró do Paço and an elegant restaurant called Atrium.
In addition, on one of the side wings of the old Palace there is a charming multi-space called Harlequin, which combines a record and book store with a restaurant where you can enjoy a delicious full lunch, a sandwich or some dessert.
The Imperial Palace of Rio de Janeiro is one of the essential points in the cultural and historical tours offered in the city.
Visit the Imperial Palace of Rio
Tuesday to Sunday: 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
How to get to the Imperial Palace of Rio de Janeiro
Metro Carioca – Line 1 and 2
Address: Praça XV de Novembro, 48
Telephone: (+55 21) 2215 2622