Like nearly everyone in the world, I have been absolutely fixated by the Olympics. I can’t stop watching the games — as I write this, Michael Phelps is making angry faces at other swimmers and Lily King just beat the doping Russian girl. USA! USA! I thought it would be a good time to take a look at Rio’s two cathedrals.
Rio has had a number of cathedrals over the centuries since its archdiocese was established in the 1670s. The building known locally as the Old Cathedral, the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was opened in 1808.
It is a good example of the Rococo aesthetic, which was a hyper-ornate and flowery style popular at the time. You can see a couple of photos here. (Unfortunately, there are not many photos on the web available for public use.)
The new cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, was completed in 1976 and, architecturally, can best be described by a non-descript vomiting sound.
Just kidding. It’s not that bad.
This church, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, was designed by architect Edgar Fonseca to resemble the ancient Mayan pyramids, like this one at Chichen Itza, Mexico.
Leaving aside the fact that the Mayans were not active anywhere near Rio or Brazil, this raises the question of whether our churches should really be modeled after pagan temples. I say no.
The four stained-glass windows refer to the four marks of the Catholic Church: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Inside Brazil has some good descriptions of these windows.
You can get a 360° view inside this massive cathedral here, via Google.