This historic library is a hidden architectural treasures and one of Brazil’s best pieces of mock-Manueline architecture. The genre is described as ‘Portuguese gothic’, named after the 16th-century King Manuel, which combines Islamic ornamentalism and sculpted nautical symbols. The modest exterior is decorated with statues of Camões, Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed Brazil for Portugal. The magnificent reading hall was built around the oldest central steel structure in Rio, with towering arches decorated with Islamic flourish and a massive iron chandelier suspended from an elaborate painted ceiling. Some 120,000 books fill the library’s collection, many of them very rare. Mon-Fri 9am-6pm. Admission free.