The gardens, villas, and imperial palaces of São Cristóvão are now public parks and museums, the foremost of which is Quinta da Boa Vista. From 1808 to 1889, the palace was the residence of the royal and the imperial family and was later altered and rebuilt as the Palácio de São Cristóvão.
It houses the National Museum, which has the largest zoological, botanical, ethnographic, and archaeology collections in the country, totaling more than a million items. In the expansive park are gardens with lakes, woodlands, and caves, which you can reach via a miniature railway. Also inside the park is a zoo with more than 2,000 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles from Brazil and around the world.