Church of the Candelaria

Church of the Candelaria (57)

Promises abound in times of panic, and if all of them were met, we would certainly have more than one Candelaria Church spread throughout the world. Because legend has it that this is the origin of the construction of one of the most beautiful and famous churches throughout Brazil. Despite not being a story with a historical basis, it is said that the building of Our Lady of Candelaria comes from a promise Antônio Martins Palma and Leonor Gonçalves made when their ship Candelaria capsized near the coast due to a strong storm that did not foretell a happy ending for the crew.

The structure of the Church of Our Lady of Candelaria has changed much since it was built in the early seventeenth century. Of the small chapel built by the Spanish captains of the story only the name remains, whereas official records begin early in the eighteenth century, and they show the different changes undertaken around the main structure. 

It was in 1710 when they expanded the small chapel and, halfway through that century, the Portuguese military engineer, Francisco Roscio, was commissioned to carry out the necessary expansion of the church. With the materials extracted from the Candelaria quarry, the construction of the new structure began in 1775. Its first inauguration, without the church being entirely completed yet, was in 1811, in the presence of the Prince Regent Dom John VI. In 1898, more than a century after the start of construction, it was finally considered to be concluded after the enlargement carried out during the nineteenth century, when the church eventually got its current structure, with a Latin cross floor and three naves; a central one and two lateral ones.

The façade of the Church of Our Lady of Candelaria, facing the vast Guanabara Bay, is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world and continues to maintain the original façade designed by Francisco Roscio. In each of the two towers, a clock is installed, in which one marks the time and the other points out the day, month and moon phases. The large bronze doors you can see, decorated with amazing reliefs, on which the Virgin guarded by cherubs stands out, are the work of Antonio Teixeira and were installed in 1901.

The construction of the church seems to have been undertaken by fascicles, because, inside, the main dome was built from 1856 to 1877, this being one of the biggest worries construction-wise. Built of limestone from Lisbon, the intervention of several architects was needed, because of its architectural difficulty, and it was in the late nineteenth century when it could be considered to be terminated along with the statues that adorn the church.

The interior decoration follows the Italian Neo-Renaissance style; columns and walls covered with polychrome marble, murals which represent the Virgin, the Seven Virtues and characters of the Old Testament. In addition, the pulpit was carved by the Portuguese Rodolfo Pinto do Couto and features a highly catered and elaborate Art Nouveau style. If you look carefully, you will also find murals depicting the history of the Church of Our Lady of Candelaria.

It is said that, after seeing La Candelária, you get out of it with the feeling of having seen one of the essential parts of Rio de Janeiro. What do you think? Do you get that feeling? Or do you want to discover more of Rio with Play and Tour?

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