The institution was founded in 1837 by a group of forty-three Portuguese immigrants, political refugees, to promote culture among the Portuguese community in the then capital of the Empire. Emperor D. Pedro II (1831–1889) laid the cornerstone of the building on June 10, 1880, and his daughter, Princess Isabel, along with her husband, Conde d'Eu, opened it on September 10 1887. The library receives from Portugal a copy of all the works published in the country. The site also has a section of rare works, including the first edition of Os Lusíadas, from 1572, which belonged to the Society of Jesus.
WHY THIS PLACE
In addition to being a separate architectural show, it is in the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, in Rio de Janeiro, that is the largest collection of works by Portuguese authors outside Portugal, containing 350 thousand volumes. The history of the Brazilian Academy of Letters is linked to that of the Real Gabinete, since the first five solemn sessions of the Academy, under the presidency of Machado de Assis, were held here. In July 2014 the library was listed in 4th position among the 20 most beautiful libraries in the world according to Time magazine. The publication highlighted its history, architecture and rich collection of Portuguese-speaking works.
The historic building was used as a location for famous Brazilian films, such as:
O Primo Basílio (1988), by Daniel Filho
Os Maias (2001), by Luiz Fernando Carvalho
O Xangô de Baker Street (2001), by Miguel Faria Jr.
Mad Maria (2005), by Ricardo Waddington
Vinicius (2005), by Miguel Faria Jr.