National Library of Brazil

The magnificent National Library of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro is the largest library in Latin America and the 7th largest in the world

Facade of the National Library of Rio de Janeiro
Facade of the National Library of Rio de Janeiro cc licensed Wikimedia photo by Halleypo

For those of you who love to read and who love seeing historical buildings you absolutely have to take a trip down to the National Library of Brazil. This library is the largest library in Latin America and the 7th largest library in the world with a collection of roughly 9,000,000 items. Situated in Rio de Janeiro, this magnificent building is a treasure chest of manuscripts, books, lithographs, cartographic material, photographs, coins and medals.

There seem to be two versions as to why the library was brought to Brazil. In one version of the story it is stated that in 1755 Portugal suffered a massive earthquake which led to a lot of damage to the existing infrastructure of the Royal Library. In a bid to save the prized documentation of the Royal family the library was moved to Brazil in three phases which started in 1810. Initially, it was the upstairs rooms of the Hospital of the Third Order of the Carmel located close to the Palace Imperial that was used. But because these were not considered the best location for this valuable library, Prince Regent issued a decree for funds to be provided from the royal treasury in order to build the royal library.

In the other version of the story, the Royal family brought the books from Portugal with them as they exiled themselves to Brazil days before Napoleonic troops invaded Portugal in 1807. This was their way of protecting their royal documentation and other items of interest. It is stated that the National Library was moved three times before the go ahead was given and the National Library of Brazil, then called the Portuguese Royal Library, was built. At the time of its establishment it had over 60,000 books, manuscripts and other items. Over the years the collection grew as other items of interest were collected and added to its vaults.

In its early years it is said that the library was only open to special scholars. They needed to get permission in order to access materials. Later in 1814 it was opened to the general public but the general public did not have a great interest in the library due to having only basic literacy so its aisles were frequented by the educated elite of Brazil.

Pay a visit to the National Library of Brazil, take some time to browse through the amazing collection and satisfy your curiosity on almost any topic while surrounded by the splendour of its architecture.

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: No

National Library of Brazil Hours:
Opening hours may differ on holidays

  • Monday: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed

Address: Av. Rio Branco, 219 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20040-008, Brazil

Phone: (21) 2220-9608

Official Website: National Library of Brazil

National Library of Brazil Reviews

Rated 4.5 out of 5 Star Rating

5 Star Rating considered by UNESCO as one of the ten largest national libraries of the world and the largest in Latin America
Engelbert Tabones - a month ago

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4 Star Rating Beautiful building and it’s free to walk around and visit. Shame that only 2 of the 4 floors are open to the public - and even then, all of the side rooms that contain the archives are closed off to the public. Descriptions of the limited exhibits that are accessible are only in Portuguese :(
R F - 6 years ago

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5 Star Rating We went on a guided tour of the Nacional Library and it was amazing (besides having the best - funniest - pictures taken by the library's guide - Sorry John VI). Perfectly located on Cinelandia Square with over 9 millions items on its collection from: books, documents, magazines, newspapers, press releases, etc. It has been opened for over 200 years and it's the largest in Latin America and the 7th largest in the World. If you're in Rio, I'm a local guide here. Feel free to get in touch with me through any social media: @DEBOMZAI
Débora Anzai - 5 years ago

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5 Star Rating The National Library is beautiful. With a very rich architecture is considered by UNESCO one of the biggest national libraries of the world and the largest library in Latin America. When I visited the library I saw the exposure to exiles from World War II. Very interesting!
Monica Brittes - 7 years ago

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4 Star Rating Nice bulging, free entrance ! You just get to walk in the main hall and some rooms on the first floor. It's very nice and quick to visit
Soufiane Mamri - a year ago

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Metro Line Nearest Station Walking Time
Line 1 - Orange or Line 2 - GreenCinelândia1 Minute

How to get to National Library of Brazil by Metro

National Library of Brazil is located immediately east of the exit from Cinelândia Station.

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