What locals generally refer to as Centro is actually several sprawling districts containing the city's oldest neighborhoods, churches, and most enchanting cafés. Rio's beaches, broad boulevards, and modern architecture may be impressive; but its colonial structures, old narrow streets, and alleyways in leafy inland neighborhoods are no less so. The metro stations that serve Centro are Cinelândia, Carioca, Uruguaiana, Presidente Vargas, Central, and Praça Onze.

Rio's settlement dates back to 1555. You can experience much of the city's rich history by visiting churches, government buildings, and villas in and around Centro. The metro is a good way to get downtown, but head here early, wear comfortable shoes, and be ready to walk multiple blocks as you explore this historic City Center. There are also daily free walking tours with English-speaking guides. If you're not up for a long walk, consider taking an organized bus tour.


Beco do Comércio

A network of narrow streets and alleys centers on this pedestrian thoroughfare, also called the Travessa do Comércio, whose name…

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Igreja de São Francisco da Penitência

This baroque church was completed in 1737, nearly four decades after construction began. Today it's famed for its wooden sculptures…

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Paço Imperial

This two-story building with thick stone walls and an ornate entrance was built in 1743, and for the next 60…

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