Palácio and Parque do Catete
When Brazil was declared a republic, the Palácio do Catete, the former mansion of a German baron, became the official residence of Brazil’s presidents. It remained so until 1960, when president number 18, Juscelino Kubitschek, moved the capital to Brasília.
Kubitschek was also responsible for transforming his opulent former digs into the Museu da República (Rua do Catete 153, Catete, tel. 21/2558-6350, www.museudarupublica.org.br, noon–5 p.m. Tues. and Thurs.–Fri., 2–5 p.m. Wed., 2–6 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$6, free Wed. and Sun.). A more or less interesting collection of presidential photos, documents, and objects as well as sumptuous furnishings conjure up the history of republican Rio.
The highlight is the apartment where Getúlio Vargas lived—and died. Seemingly frozen in time from the day he shot himself in 1954, it features the smoking revolver along with his bloodied pajamas with the fatal bullet hole. The palace itself, with its stained-glass windows, shiny parquet floors, and lavish marble fixtures, is quite grand.
The Palácio do Catete is surrounded by the very elegant Parque do Catete (9 a.m.–6 p.m. daily), a welcome green oasis of green decked out with imperial palms, fish ponds, and serpentine paths. The grounds include an exhibition space, a theater, a small cinema, and a café.
Adjacent to the palácio is the small Museu de Folclore Edison Carneiro (Rua do Catete 181, Catete, tel. 21/2285-0441, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 3–6 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$2), which has an interesting collection of Brazilian folk art.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition