Baía de Guanabara
20010-010 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
+55 21 25447992 (Tourist information)
NileGuide Expert tip:
Keep an eye out for Ilha Fiscal if you're making the ferry trip over to Niteroi or Ilha da Paqueta – you'll pass it just a couple of minutes after leaving the ferry terminal. Cameras at the ready!
Looking rather incongruous on a concrete island in Rio's slightly shabby docklands, Ilha Fiscal is a bright green palace that looks like it has been lifted straight out of a fairy tale. The elaborate neo-gothic construction was built for the less than glamorous purposes of customs verification, but secured its place in history when, in 1889, it was the venue for the Portuguese empire's last ever ball – Brazil was declared a republic just three days later. Beautiful stained glass windows depict Dom Pedro and Princess Isabel, and there are fantastic views over Guanabara Bay from here.