Once the villa of a German baron, this elegant, 19th-century granite-and-marble palace became the presidential residence after the 1889 coup overthrew the monarchy and established the Republic of Brazil. Eighteen presidents lived here. Gaze at the palace's gleaming parquet floors and intricate bas-relief ceilings as you wander through its Museu da República (Museum of the Republic). The permanent exhibits include a shroud-draped view of the bedroom where President Getúlio Vargas committed suicide in 1954 after the military threatened to overthrow his government. Presidential memorabilia, furniture, and paintings that date from the proclamation of the republic to the end of Brazil's military regime in 1985 are also displayed. The palace gardens are free, and worth a visit in themselves. With their imperial palm trees, water features, chattering monkeys, and strolling geese they are among the most pleasant—and safest, thanks to patrolling guards—parks in the city, and there's a well-equipped children's playground at the far end, A small contemporary art gallery, a movie theater, a café, and a bistro operate within the grounds, and there's free live music around 6 pm each weekday, courtesy of a group of senior local sambistas.