The Cultural Nave Museum, originally built as the headquarters
for the Brazilian Customs Service, is a small turquoise castle afloat
on its own separate island in the bay. Designer Adolpho Del-Vecchio
employed the use of the Gothic Revival architecture which was, at
the time, popular in Europe. The castle’s tower has a squared
shape and a clock displays the time on four sounds so as to make
it visible to ships located anywhere in the harbor.
The building was inaugurated on April 27th, 1889. In November of
that year, the castle hosted the final ball of the Brazilian emperor,
merely days before the announcement of the Republic. The castle
has long since been seen as an example of the extravagance of Brazil’s
royalty. The Brazilian Navy used the island and the building between
1913 and 1998 before it housed the Cultural Navy Museum which was
dedicated to the Brazilian Navy.
On display in the Cultural Navy Museum there are several under-water
relics. Including coins, Delft blue china and jewelry from the wreck
of the Nossa Senhoro do Rosario in 1648. Also there are numerous
ship models such as a full-size replica of the royal barge and other
small scale models ranging from the Golden Hind to early Brazilian
The museum also houses a large collection of historical naval documents
in what was formally the Navy Library but over 10 years of development
has become the Navy Documents Center. Outside the museum, the Riachuelo,
a submarine from the 1970s, and the Bauru, a World War II destroyer,
are docked. Tourists are invited to take self-guided tours of the
A tour of the museum will take approximately two and a half hours.
Tour goers travel to the island by boat on the weekdays. Transportation
to the Cultural Navy Museum on the weekends is by bus along the
causeway. The Navy itself, offers a separate boat tour to four small
islands at which aircraft carriers, destroyers and many other military
vessels are docked. The tour to these islands, Ilha Fiscal, Ilha
das Cobras, Ilha dos Enxadas, and Ilha Villagagnon, takes about
an hour and a half and takes place on a World War I tugboat. Tours
run 12pm to 5pm.
Another maritime museum that is a nice compliment to the Cultural
Navy Museum is the Rio de Janeiro Naval and Ocenograpic Museum.
This museum contains the history of the Brazilian Navy including
maps, models of ships, and numerous documents pertaining to the
history of the navy and oceanography.