With its towering spires, grand dome, and baroque details, Church of Our Lady of Candelaria (Igreja de Candelária) stands out among more modern surroundings in central Rio de Janeiro. It was originally established by a group of Spanish settlers in 1609, and today, the Catholic church still holds mass and community gatherings.
Set in downtown Rio, Candelaria Church is difficult to miss. Spend an hour or so admiring the frescoed walls, stained glass, and muraled dome on your own, or visit with a guided tour to learn about the church’s legendary origins and complex architectural history, which includes elements of neo-Renaissance, baroque, and art nouveau design. The church is known for its small chapel and Latin cross design. Most historical Rio and architecture-themed walking tours include a stop here, often in combination with other essential Rio de Janeiro attractions such as Pedro Ernesto Palace (City Hall), the National Museum of Fine Arts (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes), and the Imperial Palace. Bike tours are also an option, allowing visitors to see more of Rio in less time.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visitors are advised to follow common courtesy in dress and noise when inside the active church.
- The church is a must-see for history buffs.
- Plan to spend about an hour if visiting on your own.
- Private tours let you combine a visit to Candelaria Church with some of Rio's natural attractions, such as Corcovado, Sugar Loaf, and Ipanema.
How to Get There
Candelaria Church is centrally located in downtown Rio, with easy access from all over the city. Take light rail to Candelaria, the bus down Avenida Presidente Vargas, or the metro to Estação Uruguaiana.
When to Get There
The church is open from 7:30am to 4pm, but you view its magnificent exterior any time of day. Nighttime visitors will see the church lit up.
Candelaria Massacre History
The church gained infamy in 1993 when eight children who were living on the street were killed by police (with many more injured), an event known as the Candelaria Massacre. This incident brought worldwide attention to the issue of police brutality in Brazil and catalyzed change.