Rio Gems: Real Gabinete & Cafe Colombo

In Rio de Janeiro’s centro, or downtown, a well-known confectioner has done business for over a century, welcoming royalty and global diplomats alike. Hey, if it’s good enough for the Queen of England, it’s good enough for me. ;)



When you get off the Metrô, it’s probably easier to ask for Cafe Colombo rather than for the street it’s on, Rua Gonçalves Dias. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who couldn’t tell you where the cafe is. Probably because…look at that deliciousness.



With marble, stained glass, mirrors, and old-world charm, it’s no wonder Confeitaria Colombo has been named one of the world’s most beautiful cafes (like in this article).



The Rio favorite is a delight for both your culinary and artistic appetites. The design, in a sort of faded glory, emanates beauty despite its age. You could just as easily host a leisurely brunch with friends here as you would a wedding reception.

You know where else you might want to hold an event in a beautiful setting? The nearby Real Gabinete Português de Leitura. (Say that five times fast!) It’s a library, yes; but it’s the kind of library Beast might have given to Belle.



If I were Belle, and the Beast gave me this library, I’d totally dance with him in a yellow ball gown too. If you’re unfamiliar with the reference, the library, in both the cartoon and the movie, has the kind of light-up-my-eyes-I’m-in-love appeal that inspires memes like this:



The Brazilian library may not have been gifted from a prince to a Disney heroine, but it’s still worthy of an ogle. A century after the Real Gabinete opened to the public in 1900, Time magazine named it among the world’s most beautiful libraries.



Its colors are in muted tones, pale memories of more prosperous times…times that sometimes date waaaay back; some of the library’s rare and original works can be traced back to the 1500s (the library was founded in 1837). Like the treasures it keeps safe, the beauty of the Real Gabinete and its literary collection remain hidden gems in the Cidade Maravilhosa, the “Marvelous City” of Rio. And like all hidden gems, it must be sought out.