The area around Praça Floriano was the liveliest part of the city in the 1920s and 1930s when Hollywood hit Brazil. All of the best cinemas were situated here and their popularity became so great that the praça was named after them. Today Cinelândia remains lively, especially at the end of the week, owing to its proximity to the city’s nightlife capital, Lapa. The 30-m-wide Avenida Rio Branco, which bisects Cinelândia, is the financial heart of the city. Lined by an untidy mishmash of modernist and art deco skyscrapers it was built at the turn of 20th the century under the ‘tear it down’ regime of Mayor Pereira Passos. Rio once had long stately avenues that rivalled the best of Buenos Aires but only clusters have survived. Although it has seen better days, the Theatro Municipal (Praça Floriano, T021-2262 3935, http://www.theatromunicipal.rj.gov.br, Mon-Fri 1300-1700, bilingual guided tours by appointment T021-2299 1667) remains a splendid piece of French-inspired, lavish neoclassical pomp. The tour is worth it to see front of house and backstage, the decorations and the machine rooms – a luxuriously ornate temple to an early 20th- century Carioca high society. On either side of the ostentatious colonnaded façade are rotundas, surmounted by cupolas. The muses of poetry and music watch over all, alongside an imperial eagle, wings outstretched and poised for flight. The interior is a mock-European fantasy of Carrara-marble columns, crystal chandeliers and gilt ceilings fronted by a vast sweeping, Gone With the Wind staircase. The stage is one of the largest in the world. The theatre was designed by Francisco de Oliveira Passos, son of the contemporaneous city mayor, who won an ostensibly open architectural competition together with French architect Albert Guilbert.
Opposite, on the other side of Avenida Rio Branco, is the newly refurbished Museu Nacional de Belas-Artes (Av Rio Branco 199, T021-2240 0068, http://www.mnba.org.br, Tue-Fri 1000-1800, Sat and Sun 1400-1800, free) . Fine art in Rio and in Brazil was, as a whole, stimulated by the arrival in 1808 of the Portuguese royal family. In 1816 the Academia de Belas-Artes was founded by another Frenchman, Joaquim Lebreton. This building was constructed 1906-1908 to house the national gallery and contains the best collection of art in the country. This includes depictions of Brazil by European visitors such as Dutchman Frans Post and Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Debret, and the best of 20th-century Brazilian art by important names such as modernist and social realist Cândido Portinari, Emiliano Di Cavalcanti (famous for his iconographic images of black Cariocas at a time when racism was institutionalized in Rio), Tarsila do Amaral (founder of the first major school of Brazilian Art, antropofagismo, which strongly influenced tropicália) and the brutalist art deco sculptor Victor Brecheret. Another gallery contains further works by foreign artists and the temporary exhibition hall houses many of Rio de Janeiro’s most important international exhibitions.
Another of Cinelândia’s stately neoclassical buildings is the Biblioteca Nacional (Av Rio Branco 219/239, T021-2262 8255, Mon-Fri 0900-2000, Sat 0900-1500, free) an eclectic Carioca construction, this time with a touch of art nouveau. The library is fronted by a stately engaged portico supported by a Corinthian colonnade. Inside is a series of monumental staircases in Carrara marble. The stained glass in the windows is French. The first national library was brought to Brazil in 1808 by the Prince Regent, Dom João, from a collection in the Ajuda Palace in Lisbon. Today the library houses more than nine million items, including a first edition of the Lusiad of Camões, a 15th-century Moguncia Bible and Book of Hours, paintings donated by Pedro II, scores by Mozart and etchings by Dürer.
Nearby, in the former Ministry of Education and Health building, is the Palácio Gustavo Capanema (R da Imprensa 16, off the Esplanada do Castelo, at the junction of Av Graça Aranha and R Araújo Porto Alegre, just off Av Rio Branco, T021-2220 1490, by appointment only, Mon-Fri 0900-1800) . Dating back to 1937-1945, it was the first piece of modernist architecture in the Americas and was designed by an illustrious team of architects led by Lúcio Costa (under the guidance of Le Corbusier) and included a very young Oscar Niemeyer – working on his first project. Inside are impressive murals by Cândido Portinari, one of Brazil’s most famous artists, as well as works by other well- known names. The gardens were laid out by Roberto Burle Marx who was responsible for many landscaping projects throughout Rio (including the Parque do Flamengo) and who worked with Costa and Niemeyer in Brasília....
Get the best info about sights, places to eat and sleep in Cinelândia and Avenida Rio Branco free to download!download free pdf