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

Official Website: Metropolitan Cathedral

Fee: No

Closed Now

Regular Hours:

  • 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

Address: Av. Chile, 254
Rio de Janeiro - RJ 20031-170
Brazil

Phone: +55 21 2240-2669

Reviews

Yelp Rating:
4.5 out of 5 4.5 Star Rating
Based on 14 Reviews.

See all reviews on Yelp

5 Star Rating 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

Vince N. Jul-06-2017

5 Star Rating Blown away....... * Not your typical cathedral * Architecturally magnificent * Late 60s early 70s modern * Surprisingly quiet inside * Peaceful &... Read More

Luckie D. Feb-18-2016

5 Star Rating From the outside the building looks like a museum or some sort of weird office building. It doesn't look like a church at all but it doesn't mean it's not a... Read More

Arthur K. Oct-07-2014

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Directions

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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Photo Gallery

Video


A look around the interior and exterior of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Rio

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