Metropolitan Cathedral

A striking modern design differentiates the Metropolitan Cathedral

Looking up at the towering Metropolitan Cathedral
Looking up at the towering Metropolitan Cathedral cc licensed photo by Edmund Gall

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

Fee: No

Address: Av. República do Chile, 245 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-170, Brazil

Phone: (21) 2240-2669

Official Website: Metropolitan Cathedral

Metropolitan Cathedral Reviews

Rated 4.7 out of 5 Star Rating

5 Star Rating Dedicated to St. Sebastian, the patron saint of Rio, this unique and modern cathedral, built in 1964, drew inspiration from the architectural style of Mayan pyramids, but with a conical shape to represent the equidistance and proximity of people to God and the conical miters bishops use in ceremonies. ​ It’s 315 feet In diameter and rises 246 feet into the air. There is seating for 5,000 people and a capacity of 20,000 people for standing room. The most notable feature are the four 210 feet tall rectilinear stained glass windows that rise from floor to ceiling that represent the four fundamental characteristics of the church: One: Color green represents unity of the church Holy: Color red showcases sanctification Catholic: Color blue of the church’s mission to save men Apostle: Color yellow representing the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. In the center, a cross with Jesus in the center hangs above the main alter with six steel cables supporting it. The ceiling also has a cross made of transparent material allowing light to shine down. There is a sacred art museum underneath the museum that one can pay to visit. NOTE: Make sure to get here before 5, since that’s when they close; however, when I visited, they were open until 6. But just to be sure, one should visit beforehand.
James - a month ago

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5 Star Rating Interesting architecture for a cathedral. It's unique and different as it doesn't look like a church in any way from outside. The crucified Christ statue inside is hung on strings with metal balls in string which give the rosary look. Lot of space to sit. The adoration chapel is behind the altar. The mosaic on the walls and the windows have spaces to light the church naturally using sunlight in summer. There is a bell tower nearby with six bells on each floor of it, ringing every hour until 6PM.
GIRUBA BEULAH SE - a month ago

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5 Star Rating Another place that will be included in that tour for one day in Rio. Also it's free the entrance, it has a capacity for over 5k+ people!! Amazing! Also, its structure is quite interesting, if you take a look outside you wouldn't think that is a Catedral! Inside decoration is gorgeous.
David Robles - 4 months ago

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5 Star Rating This cathedral is one of the best examples of modernist architecture in the Americas. The massive interior space glows with the mosaics of stained glass and a soft breeze blows across the pews. Even though it is a catholic church, it looks like other Christian denominations also come here to worship.
Iván Montejo - 4 months ago

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4 Star Rating A giant cathedral that looks kinda cool from the outside and inside but actually only takes about ten minutes to go through. It is slightly different from many of the other cathedrals in Europe but at the end of the day there’s nothing super special. At least they don’t require you to buy some tickets to enter as admission is free
Allen Lin - 2 months ago

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Metro Line Nearest Station Walking Time
Line 1 Orange or Line 2 GreenCarioca8 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.

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