Praça XV

Historic hub of Rio where Portuguese king João VI chose to have his palace when he arrived in 1808

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Rio de Janeiro
Igreja da Veneravel e Arquiepiscopal Ordem Terceira
Baroque church with ornate interior next to the Old Cathedral
Old Cathedral
Former cathedral of Rio which hosted Imperial coronations
Igreja de Nossa Senhora de Candelária
A colonial church with an endearing, if sometimes tragic, history
Paço Imperial
A former palace of both the Portuguese and Brazilian royal families
Chafariz do Mestre Valentim
Colonial drinking fountain built to give sailors fresh water
Palácio Tiradentes
Neoclassical building that housed the Brazilian Congress between 1926 and 1960

Related Tours

Short Meeting with Rio's Past
·        Walk around the historic Praça XV
·        Visit the old royal residence at the Paço Imperial
·        Lose yourself in Rio’s largest museum: the Museu Histórico Nacional

The centre of Rio has been of crucial importance in Brazilian history. It is where the Portuguese established a foothold in the south of the country, the location of the King Joao VI’s court, and the first capital of an independent Brazil. Join your personal guide as they take you on a trip to see this past first-hand. 

The First Palace

Close by where the Portuguese monarchy disembarked in 1808, your guide will tell you the story of how Rio developed from a colonial port to the capital of the Portuguese Empire. Telling you the tale of how the Portuguese overcame native resistance to found a major city, they will take you to see some of the most important colonial sites around the Praça XV, a square that was the historical heart of the city. After learning about its history, you will go into the Paço Imperial. This is where King João VI of Portugal settled when he arrived in 1808 and the building remained an important site for the royal family until their ousting in 1889, only one year after Princess Isabel announced the abolition of slavery from its balcony. 

An American Monarchy

 A short walk with your guide, as they tell you the curious episode of how Brazil declared independence from Portugal yet kept the Portuguese heir as its monarch, will take you to the Museu Histórico Nacional. Housed within the old colonial arsenal, this museum covers the history of Brazil from before the arrival of European explorers to the 19th century. It is easy to get lost among the exhibits but your guide will be there to help and it is definitely worth asking them to show you Emperor Pedro II’s throne and the royal carriages. You might also want to look at some of the Museum’s other curiosities, from the blind-friendly Patio of Cannons, to its monumental coin collection.  
Full-day Introduction to Rio
·        Start in the historic centre at the Praça XV
·        Take in the view of Rio from the statue of Christ the Redeemer
·        Enjoy the sea and sand at the beautiful Copacabana Beach
·        Go up Sugar Loaf Mountain in a cable car

Rio has a lot of offer the first-time visitor, so much that it can be tricky to fit it into a week; or even a day. Nevertheless, there are certain parts of the city which positively scream they are part of the Rio experience. Join your personal guide as they take you between those attractions, in a private car, on a collection of experiences that will last forever. 

Historic Centre

The early history of the Portuguese is one of conflict and loss, as they fought both the indigenous Tupi inhabitants and the French. When they chose to settle though, they chose a site which now bears some of the best colonial architecture in all of Brazil. Walking around the area surrounding Praca XV, your guide will be able to tell you the exciting history of Rio from its days as a far-flung outpost of the Portuguese Empire to those as its capital. Pointing out the Paco Imperial, where King Joao VI chose to live and the abolition of slavery was announced by his great-granddaughter, they will also show you the Old Cathedral where Emperors Pedro I and Pedro II were crowned. 

The Best View

Taking you inland to the neighbourhood of Cosme Velho, your guide will take you up to the top of Corcovado Mountain by the iconic rack railway. After finishing a journey where you saw the city fall away beneath you, there is only a short walk to the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer. This immense figure, which recalls Leonardo Da Vinci’s studies of the human body, stands over the city and is a symbol of both Rio and Brazil. 

Sea, Sand and the top of Rio

Venturing back down Corcovado, your guide will take you along to the Copacabana Beach. Here the ideal of a relaxed, prosperous Brazil becomes a reality in Rio’s wealthy quarter. After seeing the sights of the neighbourhood – not least the famous Hotel Copacabana – there will be plenty of time to saunter, sunbathe and swim. When you are finished, there will be a scenic drive along the coast to Sugar Loaf Mountain. The location of both Rio’s highest point, you will go up to the top by cable car. Known internationally for its role in the film Moonraker as the site of a fight between James Bond and Jaws, the cable car will take you above the jungle to the mountain’s peak. Once there you will have a superb view of the city from one of its most magnificent spots.   


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