The real gabinete português de leitura ( Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading) is a library and lusophone cultural institution located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s Luís de Camões Street, number 30., It is on the State Institute of Cultural Heritage’s list. The Cabinet was named the fourth most beautiful library in the world by Time magazine and has the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside Portugal.
The city’s first institution, the Luso-Brazilian Institute was created in 1837 by a group of forty-three Portuguese immigrants, political exiles, and to promote culture among the community. It was the first communal organization of this community in the area.
The building was designed by Rafael da Silva e Castro in Neo-Manueline style and built between 1880 and 1887, was erected during the reign of King Manuel (1495–1521). This architectural style is reminiscent of the exuberant Gothic-Renaissance style that prevailed at the time of the Portuguese discoveries, called Manueline in Portugal because it coincided with King Manuel’s reign (1495–1521).
On June 10, 1880, Emperor Pedro II (1831–1889) set the cornerstone of the building, which was completed in 1885. Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, her husband, Prince Gastonn Count of Eu., and their children attended the opening ceremony on September 10th September 1887.
The first book of the Gabinete português de leitura was The Lusiads, one of the greatest works created by Luís Vaz de Camões, which is still part of its collection today. The Library has about 1200 thousand volumes, including rare books and manuscripts. It also holds one of the most important collections on this topic in Brazil- with particular emphasis on nineteenth-century – rare books on botany, zoology, medicine and chemistry, funeral records from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, coins and medals, stamp sets registered at various times in Portugal’s Post Office (the first official postage stamp).
The library also has a collection of 64 newspapers from Brazilian Newspapers between 1808 and 1907. Among them stands out a series “Invincible Armada” that was published between 1852 and 1853, in London, by order of King Pedro II of Brazil.
Due to its large collections that are still accumulating materials that shed light on Brazilian History, it is important to note that there are many researchers who use the services offered by the gete português de leitura. The site remains open to researchers, free of charge during business hours.
More info: Real Gabinete Português de Leitura