The Palace, the Square and the Hill

Instituto Moreira Salles

Comprising two hundred images that record the center of Rio deJaneiro, the exhibition O Paço, a praça e o morro brings together works of great masters of Brazilian photography and anonymous photographers and amateurs who built the photographic representation of the city of Rio de Janeiro during the second Empire and the first decades of the Republic.To present this exhibition project at the Paço Imperial itself means recovering photographic records that allow a privileged look on this important building, of unique reference value for the city’s history, as well as on the regions adjacent to it, – the square or largo do Paço, today praça xv de Novembro and the very site of the foundation of the city, the morro do Castelo (Castle hill), removed from the city’s landscape almost a century ago.The center for the development of the economic, social and political life of Rio de Janeiro in its first centuries, the Paço Imperial,the praça xv de Novembro and the morro do Castelo shaped the city’s growth from its original geographic and urban configuration until the turn to the twentieth century. At that moment, the center of Rio wet through major changes and urban interventions associated with the reforms undertaken by mayor Pereira Passos. The two main symbols of this transformation were the opening of AvenidaCentral (Central Avenue), today Avenida Rio Branco, and the beginning of the “bota-abaixo”, a process of expansion, valuation, modernization and urban gentrification that would lead to the complete dismantling of the morro do Castelo in the late 1920s.The exhibition presents images that show the city in the period prior to these changes and others that document and accompany the urban reforms of the early twentieth century, through the records of photographers like Marc Ferrez, Georges Leuzinger, AugustoMalta and Guilherme Santos, among others. Ferrez and Malta built with their work the main photography legacy for the city´s memory during this period. Through these images it is possible to follow the transformations of the city since the arrival of the daguerreotype inRio de Janeiro in 1840, shortly before the inauguration, in the next year, of d. Pedro ii as Emperor of Brazil at 15 years old, until the end of the 1920s, a time of acceleration, due to the revolution of 1930,of intense economic, social and political changes that would launch the country and the city into modernity and contemporenity. These intense processes of constant transformation over the last approximately one hundred and twenty years are essential to the comprehension of the city today. In the year that Rio de Janeiro receives one of the most important world events, the 2016 Olympics,to revisit these founding landmarks of the city, through historical photographs produced by important names in Brazilian photography,is also an invitation to immersion in the landscape and life of this area which today goes again through a process of revitalization and transformation.The Instituto Moreira Salles thanks the Paço Imperial for this opportunity to show its photographic collection on the history of Rio de Janeiro in such an important institution. This show is an unfolding of the exhibition Rio: Primeiras Poses (Rio: First Poses) held by the Institute during 2015 at IMS-Gávea, now presented with a focus directed specifically on the territory where the city was founded and from which it evolved toward its current configuration as a great metropolis,internationally recognized as a privileged urban site, particularly for its unique natural and cultural landscape characteristics.

Paço (Palace) and Square
At the intersection of Misericórdia Street and Direita Street there was a plot of land that was made into a square, the Praça XV. The size of the old Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square) was much larger than it is today: it was as wide as the distance between São José Church and Arco do Teles (Teles Arch), and as deep as the façade of Paço Imperial (Imperial Palace). When part of the Guanabara Bay was covered with landfills, the harbor expanded as far as the front line of Master Valentim Fountain. From the 16th century on wards, the main religious orders built churches and schools, connecting them to the Morro do Castelo (Castle hill), where the Jesuits were based, in the São Bento Monastery. At the same period, developers built terraced houses or two-story houses in very narrow pieces of land.In the 18th century, several prominent secular buildings were erected, and they are still situated at Praça XV: Paço Real and Arco do Teles, which housed several small merchants’ shops. Next door to the Paço, there was the Old Prison, where conspirator Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, also know as Tiradentes, was kept before being hanged in 1792.When the Castelo hill lost its political and geographic role, Praça XV became the city and the country’s center. Particularly when the headquarters of the Vice royalty moved from Salvador to Rio, in 1763, positioning Rio’s port on the Colonial Production route.Governor Gomes Freire undertook major renovation works, turning the buildings that housed the Mint and the Royal Farm warehouse into residential homes for governors and viceroys. That was when Paço Square was created in 1743.Under the administration of viceroy Dom Luís de Vasconcelos e Souza (1779-1790),more works were undertaken near the sea. The old fountain was replaced with a new one designed by Master Valentim, in the new harbor.With the arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family and its court in Brazil, in 1808, the square became the center of power. Dom João and his family moved to Paço, now a Royal palace and a square, and his most important subjects were housed nearby.This is also the place where Emperors Dom Pedro I and Dom Pedro II took upresidence. The building gained three walkways: connecting the palace to the prison,which was used as servants’ quarters; to the Carmo Covent; and, in 1856, from the Convent to the Royal Chapel. On the dawn of Brazil’s independence, in January 1822, Dom Pedro made his famous “Dia do Fico” speech from one of the palace windows. It was there alsowhere Princess Isabel signed the Golden Law, abolishing slavery in Brazil.In 1870, the old Largo do Carmo was renamed Pedro II. With the proclamation of the Republic, on 15th November 1889, the name changed again to Praça XV de Novembro (15th November Square) to commemorate the beginning of the new political regime.For a period during the Republican era, the Paço building was the headquarters ofthe Brazilian Mail and Telegraph company, and later it became the Paço Imperial cultural center, where this exhibition is currently being shown.
The Castelo Hill
The city of Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1565, at the foot of the Cara de Cão Hill(presently Urca). Two years later, the city center moved to the top of the Castelo Hill. After expelling the French, the Tupinambás and their allies from the region commander Mem de Sá, General-Governor of Brazil, chose a strategic point from which it was possible to view the bar entrance and the Guanabara Bay. It was initially called Descanso Hill. On top of the hill, the governor commissioned the construction of public buildings made of stone and lime: the warehouse of the Royal Farm, the City Council’s headquarters, Sé Church and São Sebastião Church, and a prison.The Portuguese troops were represented by the Company of Jesus Church, run by the priests José de Anchieta and Manuel da Nóbrega, who erected the city’s first school and a residential house. Soon the hill would shelter another church under the protection of Saint Inácio de Loyola. Boasting a winding shape and standing at 63 meters high, the hill occupied an area of 184,800 square meters. A wall was built to protect it, as well as the São Januário Fortress. At that time, the hill changed its name to São Januário. Its most popular name Castelo (Castle) also relates to its fortification.There were three slopes: Misericórdia Slope, of which there is still a section left,next to Bonsucesso Church; Poço do Porteiro Slope (which was previously named Old Sé Slope and Colégio Slope, after the construction of São José Seminary),where the back of the Fine Arts Museum is currently situated; the Castelo Slopewas situated where the car park building is situated today.After the Jesuits were expelled in 1759, the school was turned into a military hospital. The National Observatory was installed over the foundation of an unbuilt church. There was a signal post for vessels entering the port, which would later bereplaced with the telegraph.From the 17th century onwards, the historical hill lost its political and geographic importance. The new center became the area around Praça XV, where there was a growing commercial trade and where the new House of Governors was inaugurated in 1743.With the excuse to better ventilate and expand the city, freeing it from disease, the Castelo Hill met a cruel end. During the construction of Rio Branco Avenue, initiated in 1904, one part of the hill was destroyed. In 1920, the complete demolition began. In November 1922, the church and school, which formed the Jesuit complex, disappeared. Four thousand people were left homeless. In its place, it was erected the Esplanada do Castelo, where the Exhibition for the Centennial of Brazil’s Independence took place, with the rubble of the hill still visible. At the end of the 1920s, the complete removal of the remaining remnants of the old Castelo Hill was concluded, leaving the area completely open where several landmarks of modern architecture would be built, such as the building of the Ministry of Education and Health, and the Ministry of Finance and Work, which became known as the modern esplanade of ministries of the formal capital of the republic.
"I chose a site that seemed more convenient, on which to build the city of São Sebastião.The site was a large place of dense undergrowth full of thick trees, taking a rather long time to cut down and clear the site to build a large city, which would be surrounded by a high wall, with many strong bastions and forts full of artillery. And I built the church of the priests of Jesus, where the latter now reside, well arranged and roofed, and the three-nave church, also roofed and well arranged; I constructed the large roofed two-story Town House; the prison, the warehouses, and his Royal Highness’s two-story farmhouse, roofed and with balconies; I gave the order and requested they build many other two-story houses with roofs…" Mem de Sá, Instrumentos dos Serviços de Mem de Sá, 1570."The Descanso Mount (Mount of Rest), subsequently known by various names, among them, the Sé Mount, São Sebastião, Baluarte da Sé, São Januário, Sé, Conselho, Colégio and Sé Velha, and finally Castelo." Noronha Santos, Memórias para servir à História do Reino do Brasil, 1942
"The Castelo Hill (Castle Hill) and Santo Antônio Hill (Saint Anthony Hill), in the heart of the city, are two villages of affliction and misery. In Rio de Janeiro, those who descend the ladder of life end up living up on the hills, settling in the uninhabited slopes of the mountains, over high and distant grounds, which are hard to access. The Castelo Hill,the tallest and most attractive hill, lies between two hills, which flanks the sea." Luiz Edmundo, O Rio de Janeiro do Meu Tempo, 1938 "People go up the Castle Hill by three different routes: one via the Misericórdia Slope,which begins near the Santa Casa mansion; another which goes by the Carmo Slope and which is taken by those who come up the street with the same name, from the center of the city; and finally, one that goes by the seminary, climbing up the sides of the Ajuda Convent (the Convent of Help), and from which those who know the lay of the land can distinguish the small Floresta and Vintém ranches." Luiz Edmundo, O Rio de Janeiro do Meu Tempo, 1938
"The Misericórida Slope lies on a steep slope, with its rundown weathered-beaten houses, with its uneven walkways that make it easy to trip over and fall. Further up, atan earlier stage, there was a small square with its own church and the austere façade of the São Zacarias Hospital, which provided a place for pilgrims to rest. Nevertheless, one could not walk down the road and over the grass that covered the downward slope,because it was so full of debris despicably thrown there by the neighboring residents."Théo Filho, Ídolos de barro, 1924 "What is so impressive to those who climb up those steep slopes and rough hill sides is the series of thick, solid walls, supporting walls, ancient strongholds, some two or three centuries old, and on which the houses are built; manor houses that desperately destitute local dwellers have been transformed into simple homes with rooms to sublet, palaces cut up into smaller compartments, many of them with sections exhibiting divisions of burlap or a wooden divider lined with paper, with no air or light, and where countless families promiscuously gather to sleep;" Luiz Edmundo, O Rio de Janeiro do Meu Tempo, 1938
"It was the first time that both women went to the Castelo Hill. They began to walk up by the Carmo Street. There are many people in Rio who have never been there, many would have died, and many more will be born and die never having set foot there. Not everyone can say they know an entire city. An old English man, who incidentally had walked across many lands, once confided in me many years ago in London, that of London he was only familiar with his club, and for him it was enough of the metropolis and the world." Machado de Assis, Esaú e Jacó, 1904"Natividade and Perpétua knew other parts besides Botafogo, but no matter how much they heard of the Castelo Hill, and of the cabocla (woman of mixed race) who reigned there in 1871, it was as strange and remote to them as the club. The steepness,unevenness, and poor paving of the steep road mortified the feet of the two poor ladies. (…) That very slow pace of walking, as compared to the speed of other people,made it easy to suspect that this was their first time visit. A creole woman asked asergeant: I bet they are going to see the cabocla. And they both stopped at a distance,overcome by that invincible desire to know the lives of others, that often sums up the whole of human necessity. "Machado de Assis, Esaú e Jacó, 1904
"The residents of the Castelo Hill particularly like sitting by their windows. The majority spend their days at doors and open windows, displaying them selves before the eyes of who passes by in the street, men brushing their teeth, shaving their beards or removing calluses. Women sewing, washing the dishes, feeding their caged birds: their rusty-collared seedeaters, their canaries, their parrots…There isn’t a single house or shack that does not have, hanging in the window sill, inaddition to a cage, a man or woman exhibiting themselves, peeping, inquiring about everyone's life, learning everything that happens beyond their doors, in this place. When they do not know, they ask, invent, distort, slander." Luiz Edmundo, O Rio de Janeiro do Meu Tempo, 1938
"Many years ago a traveler arrived here, and we became acquainted. One night we spoke about the city and its history; he expressed a desire to see some old architecture. Imentioned various; amongst them the church of Castelo and its altars. We set off the following day I would pick him up and climb up the Castelo Hill. It was a beautiful morning, I’m not sure if it was in winter or spring. We went up. To cheer him up I described the time when the Jesuit priests would climb up the same path, the small city,the simple customs, the grand and sincere devotion. We reached the top, the church was open and so we entered. I know it’s no ancient ruins of Athens; but you often show what you possess. The traveler entered, took a look around, left and stood by the wall,gazing at the sea, the sky, the mountains, and after five minutes: “What nature you have!”" Machado de Assis, revista A semana, 20/08/1893"I believe in them. When I was alive I was a friend of money, but it had to have mystery.The grand riches left in the Castelo Hill by the Jesuits was one of my childhood and youth belief; it accompanied me in my death and I still have it till this day. I lost my health, my illusions, my friends and even my money; but I have never lost my belief in the treasures of the Castelo Hill." Machado de Assis, revista A semana, 12/02/1893
"Go to the bearded men and be blessed by the friars of the Castelo Hill. It is the best remedy to scare away the evil eye." Théo Filho, Ídolos de barro, 1924
"Who complains that fortune has abandoned them, that some star of misfortune shines upon them or that a harmful fate pursues? – Mass at 6 in Barbados, on Fridays." Luiz Edmundo, O Rio de Janeiro do Meu Tempo, 1938
"(...) people who leave their homes at dawn to work at jobs in distant places, with their lunch boxes wrapped up in newspaper; men with pale, gaunt faces, hair in need of a trim, beard in need of a shave, revealing disease or extreme poverty; women, who are the pillars of their houses, the labor mules, with their unkempt, poor appearance, their petticoats rolled up to their waists, damp from the water of the tanks where they had been worked all day; children who look sick with their jaundice and dry appearance,their bodies covered in sores, nevertheless noisy and naughty, swarming the houses,yards, climbing up the walls, up along the public lighting conductors, dirty, fussy,terrible, arguing cursing each other and throwing stones, provoking the passers by with embarrassing fits or shrieks, blows, fighting..." Luiz Edmundo, O Rio de Janeiro do Meu Tempo, 1938
"... the city was born on the Castelo Hill, where the first church was erected, the first school was founded, where its founder, Estácio, was buried (...). In addition to that engendering function, itself sufficient enough to consecrate the hill, the Castelo Hill precisely because of the abandonment in which they left it and because of its proximity to Central Avenue is the largest pearl of the marvelous the Carioca pearl necklace.... Now a refrain sounds insistently: we need to destroy the Castelo Hill!" Monteiro Lobato, Urupês, 1920"The Hill know it is condemned (…) it perceives that it has turned into a business, that the real treasure hidden in its depths is not the image of Saint Inácio in solid gold and yes the (….) demolition, and it refuses to accept that the end is near. Men today are negotiators without souls. They want money. To obtain it, they are willing to sell anything, they would even sell their souls if they could. How can it resist the tide, if his credentials — ancient, beautiful, picturesque, historicalness — aren’t these prices of the stock exchange?" Monteiro Lobato, Não arrasem o morro do Castelo, 1920
"When Central Avenue was built, in 1904 the mansion Seminário de São José and buildings numbered from 12 to 26 and 1 to 15 were demolished, having excluded buildings built in the upper part of the hill and number 6, at the top of the hill. Afterwards, since the area for constructing the building of the National Library was small, those 19 buildings were expropriated." Noronha Santos, Memórias para servir à História do Reino do Brasil, 1942"There are no houses, even so we want to demolish the Castelo Hill, taking away the housing of thousands of people. From an administrative viewpoint, there isn’t anything more perfect! The world goes through such a profound crisis, and of such varying aspects that only a blind man wouldn’t see what those crazy projects entail, challenging poverty in general."  Lima Barreto, revista Careta, 28/08/1920 "At 6.45 am the builders come to work, in groups of 2 or 3, slow and tired, driving away the laziness they brought from the suburban villages bordered by the railroad. Stopping at the steps of the library, the Fine Arts Museum, and other buildings in Rio Branco Avenue, stripping off their clean clothes, dressing in dirty ones that they would unwrap from grimy paper. "Théo Filho, Ídolos de barro, 1924
"The majority were Portuguese and nationals, the latter in higher numbers, almost all black or tan." Théo Filho, Ídolos de barro, 1924"To the whistle of bulldozer, the human herd spread along the base of the hill, carrying hoes, picks, and shovels; while some men climbed the choppy paths, others initiated the loosening of the soil or the expansion of pipes." Théo Filho, Ídolos de barro, 1924"There is a hypothesis that under the vast and old foundations of a convent of the Jesuits on the Castelo Hill, there were gold and silver objects of high artistic value, as well as countless coins and a large library, soon what took shape, provoked the smell of archaeological ruins and the auri sacra fames of some capitalists who even organized themselves into a company with the goal of exploring the dusty and humid colchida of the Jesuits. That was during the time of the Encilhamento (the economic bubble that boomed in late 1880s early 1890s in Brazil)." Lima Barreto, jornal O correio da Manhã, 28/04/1904
These facts had almost been completely forgotten, when yesterday once again the public’s attention turned to the disgraceful Hill condemned to soon collapse by the devastating blows of the sledge hammers of those constructing the new Avenue. The day before yesterday, in the evening, there was a lot of hustle and bustle in that section of construction. The workmen, with even blows shook the mattocks against the centuries old ground, and with every blow, a black block of land was dislocated, rolling down, breaking up, by the natural slant of the upturned ground. (...) Construction was suspended in order that appropriate arrangements be made for such a strange case; aguard was placed at the underground door that guarded a great fortune or an enormous and secular joke." Lima Barreto, jornal O correio da Manhã, 28/04/1904 "With the excuse to better ventilate and expand the city, freeing it from disease, the Castelo Hill met a cruel end. During the construction of Rio Branco Avenue, initiated in1904, one part of the hill was destroyed. In 1920, during the administration of Carlos Sampaio, the complete demolition began with the use of hydraulic machines on the hill side that was located behind what at the time was Central Avenue. The remains off under, Estácio de Sá were transferred to Capuchinhos Church, in Tijuca. In November1922, the church and school, which formed the Jesuit complex, disappeared. Four thousand people were left homeless." Curatorial text 
"In its place, it is erected the Esplanada do Castelo, where the Exhibition for the Centennial of Brazil’s Independence took place, with the rubble of the hill still visible. In 1928 the complete removal of the remaining remnants of the old Castelo Hill was concluded, leaving the terrace completely open where several landmarks of modern architecture would be built in Brazil, such as the building of the Ministry of Education and Health, and the Brazilian Press Association’s headquarters, next to all the buildings that would house the ministries of the federal government, designed and builtin the 1940s and 1950s.  The removal of other hills after the knocking down of the Castelo Hill in 1920, such as the Santo Antônio Hill and Senado Hill, both in the city center, and the establishment of new land fills along the edge with discarded material, like the Aterro do Flamengo in the1950s, continued to keep the city in constant transformation throughout the entire the20 th century. Nevertheless, the loss of the Castelo Hill, as an inaugural landmark of the city, is still today an open scar in the history of Rio de Janeiro." Curatorial text
O Paço, a Praça e o Morro
Credits: Story

Curatorship
Sergio Burgi

Curatorial assistant
Mariana Newlands and Rachel Rezende

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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