In stark contrast to the Old Cathedral, also known as the Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, stands the Metropolitan Cathedral at 75 metres in height. The shape and architecture of this Cathedral has nothing in common with the Old Cathedral which was created by the Carmelites in the 19th century. Unique in all ways the Metropolitan although new is steeped in symbolism and interesting aspects
The Metropolitan Cathedral, Catedral Metroplitana de São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro in Portuguese, was built between the years 1964 and 1979. It was built in honour of the patron Saint of Rio, Saint Sebastian. The structure, although resembling and inspired by the Mayan pyramids in Mexico, is conical in its structure but does not reach a peak but is flat instead, like the tops of the Mayan pyramids. It is said that this shape is symbolic, representing the closeness of people to God.
Probably the most noticeable feature of the cathedral are the four stained glass windows that run like vertical columns from the ceiling stretching down to the floor. Only evident from the inside of the Cathedral you will note that there is a cross at the top of the ceiling that is made up of glass and covers the ceiling. Each arm of the cross has the vertical stain glass windows running down to the ground. So from the inside, when you look up what you will see is a cross with beams of light coming out from it and reaching down to you. It feels like you are being caressed by the rays of God, incubating you in a womb of multi-colours. I have no doubt that this is exactly the effect the architect, Edgar Oliveira, had in mind when designing this space.
Each panel of stained glass that comes down from above is rich with different colours and each panel represents something different. Each panel represents one of the four 'marks' of the Church; Holy, Once, Catholic and Apostolic. The way the light shines through the panels of stained glass creates a kaleidoscope of colours inside the cathedral.
The Metropolitan Cathedral has a seating capacity of 20,000 seated and 5,000 standing. Apart from visiting the Cathedral to join a mass or to see the architecture, visitors will also marvel at the pieces of art on display at the Sacred Art Museum in its basement. Be sure to put this historic monument on your list of wonders to visit when you are in Rio.
Facts For Your Visit
Official Website: Metropolitan CathedralFee: No
Some attractions may have reduced hours or be closed due to COVID-19. Please verify opening hours with the attraction before visiting.
- Monday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Tuesday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Wednesday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Thursday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Friday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Saturday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Sunday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
Category: Landmarks & Historical Buildings Churches
Av. Chile, 254
Rio de Janeiro - RJ 20031-170
Phone: +55 21 2240-2669
Nicole E. Mar-04-2020
Pretty certain you will have never stepped into a more unusually shaped cathedral. It doesn't look like a cathedral from the outside at all, more of a silo... Read More
Michael U. Nov-05-2019
Inspired by the Mayan pyramids of Mexico, The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian stands tall in the center of Rio de Janeiro. Fitted with four... Read More
Vince N. Jul-06-2017
You'd never guess that this conical-shaped building was a church from the outside. My first thought that came to mind was of the Hyatt Regency San... Read More
Accommodations near Metropolitan Cathedral:
|Metro Line||Nearest Station||Walking Time|
|Line 1 Orange or Line 2 Green||Carioca||8 Minutes|
How to get to Metropolitan Cathedral by Metro
Exit the metro at Carioca Station to the south onto Av. Almirante Barroso and go right (east) along the sidewalk. Keep to the right hand sidewalk that goes up to the pedestrian overpass. Take the overpass across the road and go to your right on the far side continuing along the mosiac sidewalk toward the cathedral. Take the steps on your right just before the parking lot.
Map & Instant Route Finder
Click&Go Map and Route Finder with public transit, walking, driving or cycling directions. Get up-to-the-minute transit times for your route.