Telephone (21) 3235 2650
Upon its completion in 1867 under the watchful eye of coffee baron owner Antônio Clemente Pinto, Catete's stunning three-storey palace was and remains a testament to eclectic and ambitious architectural design, thanks largely to the Italian and German architects working on it. By the end of the century it had fallen into the hands of the Federal Government and was chosen as the home for the President of the Republic, Prudente de Moraes, and would remain so until August 1954 when, engulfed in a political crisis, the President shot himself in the chest.
No fewer than eighteen Presidents had called the Palace home before the seat of power moved from Rio to Brasília in 1960, at which point the gardens were opened to the public, where today art and photography shows are held. The museum, meanwhile, has a permanent collection of 19th and 20th-Century art, furniture, photos and documents telling their own story of the history of this remarkable building in the somewhat downtrodden neighbourhood, with the chapel and banquet hall among the perfectly-preserved treasures. Outside in the gardens is a pleasant coffee shop and one of the better-equipped children's playgrounds in the area, safely fenced off from the main road.