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

Closed Now

Regular Hours:
Hours may be subject to change. Please verify on the official website.

  • Monday: 7:30 am - 4:00 pm
  • Tuesday: 7:30 am - 4:00 pm
  • Wednesday: 7:30 am - 4:00 pm
  • Thursday: 7:30 am - 4:00 pm
  • Friday: 7:30 am - 4:00 pm
  • Saturday: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Sunday: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Category: Churches

Address: Praça Pio X
Rio de Janeiro - RJ 20040-020

Phone: +55 21 2233-2324


Yelp Rating:
5 out of 5 5 Star Rating
Based on 11 Reviews.

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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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Photo Gallery


This video explores the beautiful interior of Igreja da Candelária

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