A royal abode for books in Rio

Visitors can browse at the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, which is open to the public on weekdays, in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

The institution marked its 181st anniversary on May 14 this year, and was founded in 1837 by a group of 43 Portuguese immigrants to promote culture among the Portuguese community in Brazil, which had previously been a Portuguese colony until independence in 1822.

Open to the public since 1900, the building's more than 350,000 volumes make up the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside of Portugal. It receives around 6,000 new titles a year, and houses many rare and valuable books, including the princeps edition (first printed edition) of the 1572 epic poem Os Lusiadas, which is available for viewing by the public on request.

Designed by Portuguese architect Rafael da Silva Castro, the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading was named one of the 20 most beautiful libraries in the world by Time magazine in 2014.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2018, with the headline 'A royal abode for books in Rio'. Print Edition | Subscribe