Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site

A site of conscience - A wharf constructed for the landing of enslaved Africans

UNESCO World Heritage

Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

Valongo Wharf (Cais do Valongo) is located in the former harbour area of Rio de Janeiro and was built in 1811 for the arrival of African slaves brought to the continent.

A landing point of enslaved Africans by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

In the first 20 years of its operation approximately 900,000 slaves landed at this wharf; estimates suggest that this was almost 20% of all slaves who were brought to Brazil during this time.

Inscription on the World Heritage List by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List on July 9, 2017. Valongo Wharf is the most important physical evidence associated with the historic arrival of enslaved Africans on the American continent. It is a site of conscience, which illustrates strong and tangible associations to one of the most terrible crimes of humanity, the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of people creating the largest forced migration movement in history.

As the archaeological remains of the slave trading port in Rio, the site evokes painful memories, which many African Brazilians can strongly relate to. Preserving these memories, the vicinity of Valongo Wharf has become an arena for various manifestations celebrating African heritage on an ongoing basis.

The slave trade by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

The slave trade reached its peak when the Portuguese Royal Family and the court arrived in Brazil in 1808. The Valongo region became the main focal point at this time and here the wharf was constructed.

Layers by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

The site is composed of several archaeological layers, the lowest of which consists of floor pavings in pé de moleque style, attributed to the original Valongo Wharf. 

The slave trade by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

The slave trade was officially banned in 1831. However even after this ban, the Valongo Wharf remained one of the main points of this atrocity, which was now conducted in a clandestine manner.

The slave trade by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

This illegal slave trade continued until 1888 almost 60 years after it was officially banned. 

Imperatriz Wharf by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

In 1843, a 60 cm thick embankment was built on the Valongo Wharf to build a new anchorage. This was for the arrival of Princess Teresa Cristina, who was the future wife of D. Pedro II. The pier was renamed the Imperatriz Wharf.

Imperatriz Wharf by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

The Imperatriz Wharf was buried in 1911, during an urban reform.

Excavations by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

Because of excavations to revitalize the port area of Rio de Janeiro, two anchorages were discovered in 2011: Valongo and Imperatriz.

Excavations by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

Along with these discoveries, there were also many amulets and objects of worship originating in Congo, Angola and Mozambique.

Spiritual importantce by Valongo Wharf Archaeological SiteUNESCO World Heritage

Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site is the globally most significant remains of a landing point of enslaved Africans in the Americas and therefore carries enormous historical as well as spiritual importance to African Americans.

Valongo Wharf can therefore be seen as unique and exceptional both from a material point of view and with regard to the spiritual associations to which it is tangibly related.

Credits: Story

This exhibit was created by Embratur. www.embratur.gov.br
More on Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site and World Heritage: whc.unesco.org/en/list/1548/
Photos: Alexandre Macieira | Riotur

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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