Rio’s imposing Catete Palace (Palácio do Catete) was Brazil’s presidential palace from 1894 until 1960, when the capital was moved from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia. The urban mansion now houses the Museum of the Republic, focusing on art and period furnishings from the Republican period, as well as presidential memorabilia from past leaders.
Catete Palace hosts changing exhibitions about Brazil’s cultural heritage. The palace has been painstakingly restored to form the Museum of the Republic (Museu da República). The architecture of the buildings built between 1858 and 1866, with luxe white marble and intricate stained glass lining the halls, give a window into how the Brazilian elite lived during that era. Of particular grisly interest is the bedroom in which president Getúlio Vargas committed suicide in 1954; his blood-stained pajamas are on display. A theater shows arthouse films about the museum, and the palace’s surrounding gardens are now a park, which locals enjoy as a respite from busy city life. The on-site restaurant is a favorite local spot for lunch, and the bookstore features volumes dedicated to Brazilian history.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Catete Palace is a must-see for architecture and political history buffs.
- Families love the palace gardens, which house one of the best playgrounds in the city.
- Teachers, seniors over 60 years old, and kids under 10 years old enter free of charge. Students and kids from 10 to 21 years old pay half price to enter the palace.
- Access to the gardens is free to the public.
How to Get There
The easiest way to get to Catete Palace, located in the Flamengo neighborhood, is to catch the metro to Catete station, located opposite the palace.
When to Get There
The palace is open Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 5pm, and Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 11am to 6pm. Admission is free on Wednesdays and Sundays.
On August 24, 1954, Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas committed suicide in the Presidential Room of the Catete Palace. Widely regarded as the most influential Brazilian politician of the 20th century, the president faced mounting pressure over his governing methods and became depressed. Facing the reality that his days were numbered, he took his own life in a room that is immaculately preserved for visitors to see today.