One of most beautiful library in the world, 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 of Brazil. It was the first association of this community in the city.
The building of the current headquarters, designed by the Portuguese architect Rafael da Silva e Castro, was erected between 1880 and 1887 in Neo-Manueline style. The façade, inspired by the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, was worked by Germano José Salle in Lisbon stone in Lisbon and brought by ship to Rio. The four statues that adorn it portray respectively Pedro Álvares Cabral, Luís de Camões, Infante D. Henrique and Vasco da Gama. The medallions of the façade portray, respectively, the writers Fernão Lopes, Gil Vicente, Alexandre Herculano and Almeida Garrett. The interior also follows the Neo-Manueliene style on the covers, wooden bookcases for books and memorials.