Candelária Church

Candelária is one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in Rio

Igreja da Candelária
Igreja da Candelária cc licensed photo by Guilherme Sales

Located in the heart of central Rio de Janeiro one will find Candelária Church or Igreja da Candelária in Portuguese. This beautiful old Roman Catholic church has a rich history and due to no fault of its own became associated with one of the darkest days in Rio's history.

When you first arrive at Candelária you will be able to stand well back from the front and get some great photos, as there is a plaza that extends well out in front of the church. The architectural design of the outside has considerable Baroque influences and is constructed of stone. The inside is more Neoclassical and features plenty of marble and brightly coloured stained glass along with beautiful paintings on the ceilings and the underside of the large limestone dome.

An interesting fact that was crucial to the construction of the church was a promise made by a husband and wife Antonio Martins da Palma and Leonor Goncalves, during a terrifying ship voyage to Rio de Janeiro where a severe storm nearly destroyed their ship. Loyal to Our Lady of Candelaria, they made a promise to build a church in her honour if they arrived safely. They constructed a small Chapel on the present site in 1609. Construction of the present day church began in 1775 to replace the old chapel and continued through until late in the 1800s. The story of its origin is told in some the paintings inside the church.

At the beginning we mentioned the association of the church with a tragic event in Rio's history; an event there is a good chance you are familiar with known as the Candelária massacre. The sad event took place in July of 1993 when a group of men that included some military police officers drove up to the outside of the church at night and open fired on as many as seventy homeless street kids killing eight of them. These kids slept in the area around the church and hung out there during the day, a result of the church providing a variety of supportive services to as many of them as it could. Since these kids had little means, many were involved in petty crimes to help them survive and they had frequent scraps with the police which led up to this tragic event. Only a few men ended up convicted for this crime and there were more related deaths to follow including when one of the survivors took a hostage on a Rio city bus nearly 7 years afterwards. This event was documented in the film Bus 174.

When you are admiring this beautiful old Church and landmark, remember that the children were there because it provided one of the few sources of support they could find at the time. There is much more one can learn about this tragic event.

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: No

Address: Praça Pio X, s/n - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20040-020, Brazil

Phone: (21) 2233-2324

Official Website: Candelária Church

Candelária Church Reviews

Rated 4.6 out of 5 Star Rating

5 Star Rating This is the most beautiful church in Rio and a must to visit. Opening hours are always changing and it may not be open at it says here. Covid restrictions have had this church closed for long time. Take a slow walk around and see the different altars and remember to look up for the amazing roof and a cupola that reminds of St. Paul's cathedral in London.
Mats Berggren - 2 years ago

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5 Star Rating The Candelária church is one of the traditional ones in the city of Rio de Janeiro and one of the main artistic works of the 19th century in Brazil, given the great names involved in its neoclassical decoration. Founded in 1609, it was later expanded, becoming a parish church, and renovated in 1710. However, in the second half of the 18th century, it needed expansion works, whose project was in charge of sergeant Francisco João Roscio, Portuguese military engineer . The work began in 1775 and, still unfinished, was inaugurated in 1811. The front external part and the general design of the plant are very reminiscent of certain Portuguese works, such as the Church of the Convento de Mafra and the Basilica da Estrela. The church is huge, with a beauty that begins at the doors, the floor, the ceiling, the main altar and the others located on the inner sides. Incomparable conservation and cleaning. Put it on the list of places to be visited in Rio de Janeiro. You can't let go.
Penha Motta - 4 years ago

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Luwyz Júnior - 4 years ago

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4 Star Rating One of the best rio chueches, worth a visit n its free
Srikanth Gajavelli - 5 years ago

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4 Star Rating Although we did not enter the church, it was pleasing to the eye from afar. It’s a touch of history in a sector of the city which is dominated by the homeless and office buildings.
Karol Gawrych - 5 years ago

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Metro Line Nearest Station Walking Time
Line 1 -OrangeUruguaiana5 Minutes

How to get to Candelária Church by Metro

Exit Metro Line 1 at Uruguaniana Station and walk straight east along Av. Presidente Vargas until you get to the church.

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