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Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

N.S. do monte do Carmo

A church worth visiting, especially when you have a little bit of time to spare. You're not only visiting a recently well restaurated (2008) church, but you're also visiting a place where history has been written. This church is unique in South America hence it is the only church in South America were a consecration of a king and the coronation of two emperors took place.


The first chapel on this site was dedicated to Our Lady of expectation and Childbirth and dates back to 1570. It was build by a devout in fulfillment of a promise. As the actual name was difficult to pronounce, the chapel became known as the chapel "Our Lady of O"
In 1589, this chapel was donated to the Carmelita sisters. In the seventeenth century the temple was destroyed and rebuilt, but it was still a small chapel. The construction of the beautiful baroque church began in 1761, a work of art by Master Manoel Alves Setubal. The source of inspiration was the Convent of Carmo do Porto in Portugal. On July 22snd 1770, although the construction was far from completed, the consecration of the church took place. 15 years later, Master [[Inácio Ferreira Pinto]] started on the interior of the temple.
With the arrival of the Royal family and their court in 1808 (the royal family left Portugal fled to Brazil because of the upcoming threat of Napoleon in Europe), the church became the official Royal Chapel (Sé Real) from 1808 until 1822. After the independence of Brazil in 1922 the church gained the title of Imperial Chapel (Sé Imperial) until 1889. With the start of the republic on November 15th 1889 church lost his imperial title but gained a new one because it became the first Cardinal Cathedral of Latin America in 1894. The Church kept this function until 1976 when the newly build Metropolitan Cathedral was opened. The temple underwent a lot of changes over the centuries and the last one was a profound restoration by the city of Rio de Janeiro which started in 2006 and ended in march 2008.


The temple plan originally presented in the form of a Latin cross, which, in Rio de Janeiro, is only found here and in the Church of Candelaria. The main facade of the Church is a bit unbalanced due to the positioning of the tower, away from the main body. Around 1900 the facade and the tower underwent major alterations, only the first floor of the facade, with the three portals in pombalino style is still original. The statue in a niche of the facade represents the city's patron St. Sebastian.
The triumphal arch of the presbytery is particularly spectacular. The lighting of the interior is made by a number of telescopes on the roof, decorated with elegant gold frames. At the top of the side walls of the nave there are a number of galleries that are alternated with oval screens with paintings of the Apostles, authored the colonial painter Jose Leandro de Carvalho. Reforms changed relatively little as to the interior of the church.
The tower, rebuilt between 1905 and 1913 by Italian architect Rafael Rebecchi, is surmounted by a statue in bronze, Our Lady of Conception.

Facts and figures:

  • A tombstone in the side corridor side giving access to the vestry, here part of the remains of Pedro Alvares Cabral, discoverer of Brazil are baried, the rest of the remains are to be found in the Church of Santa Maria da Graca in Santarem, Portugal.
  • two of the seven bells in the tower have the date of manufacture engraved: 1623
  • One of the seven bells was cast by John the Baptist 1822, bearing the arms of Portuguese Royal Family and the inscription: D. Joao VI.
  • February 1818 : Consecration of King D. Joao VI
  • December 1922 : Coronation of emperor D. Pedro I
  • July 1941 : Coronation of emperor D. Pedro II
  • 1863 : Wedding of Princess Isabel and Conde D'Eu.

Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Praça 15 de novembro Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil

Latitude: -22.903312
Longitude: -43.175456
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