A temple to books. The interior of Real Gabinete Português is four stories tall, capped with a stained-glass cupola and illuminated by an elaborate chandelier. It's worth stepping inside just to see the room. Created in 1837 by the culture-starved (so they said) Portuguese, the reading room contains over 350,000 volumes, many of them from the 17th and 18th centuries. Just by showing ID (and maybe filling out a form -- it depends on who's working) visitors can request, obtain, and peruse these books, for as long as the room is open.
- © Frommer's 2013
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