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There is nothing like a bit of brutalist modern architecture to divide critics. For many cariocas, the Metropolitan Cathedral, built during the military regime, has too many associations with unhappier times to really be loved. Close to that other icon of state power, the Petrobras building with its Rubix Cube appearance, the conical cathedral certainly looks pretty prosaic from the outside. It is inside that something sublime happens. Built in 1979, the 64-metre high stained glass windows inside appear to be reaching up to the heavens themselves.
A statue of Saint Sebastian close to one of the side entrances is a nod to the cathedral’s other namesake and the patron saint of Rio de Janeiro, and the Cathedral is also the seat of the archbishop of Rio. While this kind of architecture will never appeal across the board, it is a building to inspire reaction at the very least and more often than not awe, and an essential visit on a walking tour of Centro.