Catete Palace – Rio’s Museum of the Republic

The facade of Catete Palace is pretty but, except for the eagles on the roof, not overly remarkable. Walking past, a visitor to Rio de Janeiro may fail to give the building a second glance, not realizing the interior beauty and opulence waiting to be admired.

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The palace was constructed between 1858 and 1867 by a wealthy coffee baron named Antonio Clemente Pinto. Born in Portugal, Pinto arrived in Rio in 1821 and became rich off the slave trade. He acquired several coffee plantations in the Nova Friburgo region. This palace, nicknamed “The Palace of Eagles”, was his city house.

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After Pinto’s death the palace was purchased in 1886 by the Brazilian government for the Presidency of the Republic. Famous Brazilian artists and crafts people of the time were called upon to restore, create, and decorate. It was home to Brazil’s Presidents and their families until the capital moved to Brasilia in 1960.

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Now the palace is the Museum of the Republic (Museu da Republica).

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Colorful tile floors

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Paintings, ceiling detail, and the Ministerial Room table.

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Some of the sculptures on display.

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Stained Glass Gallery

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The ceilings amaze!

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No surface is left unembellished.

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The second floor is called the “nobel floor” and each room has a theme.

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Reflection of my friend and me in one of the huge mirrors in the French Room

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Parquet flooring

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Pompeian, Venetian, Moorish

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Banquet Room

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Updating Room

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In 1954 President Vargus committed suicide hours after resigning due to a political crisis. His bedroom furniture, as well as the gun he used to shoot himself in the chest and a photo of his bloodied nightshirt, are on display on the 3rd floor.

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Also on the 3rd floor, restoration work is being done.

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Catete Palace as seen from the gardens

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The gardens were designed by French architect Paul Villon and are an oasis of tranquility.

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Hmmm? Statues of kids wrestling dangerous animals.

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Grottoes, streams, and ponds

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As you can see, if you are a fan of art, architecture, design, and history, Catete Palace and its gardens are not to be missed.

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