One of Rio de Janeiro’s most visible attraction is the Rio de Janeiro Cathedral or the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro. This cone shaped building’s massive size and footprint at the heart of the city is impossible to miss. It is 106 meters in diameter, and 96 meters tall. The concrete behemoth has little common with traditional architecture of churches. Rather, it appears like an ancient Mayan pyramid.
The Cathedral was designed by Edgar Fonseca, a student of Oscar Niemeyer, and was built over a period of 12 years from 1964 to 1976. When completed it replaced the 18th century Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of the Ancient See, as seat of the Archdiocese.
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The cathedral's front door is 18 meters high, and decorated with bas-reliefs bronze. Inside there is ample space to seat 5,000 people, but as many as 20,000 can fit inside if they don’t mind standing. The tilted walls of the cathedral are covered with small square windows in a honeycomb like fashion. Through the center of each wall runs a massive rectilinear stained glass window that soar 64 meters from floor to ceiling. The four windows meet at the top of the cathedral to form a cross that functions as a skylight.
In the basement is the Sacred Art Museum that showcases various historical and religious items, including sculptures, murals, artwork, and fonts used to baptize the princes of the Portuguese royal family.
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