Valuing heritage and recovering it in the Port Region

The Porto Maravilha project seeks to re-integrate the Port Region into the city of Rio de Janeiro by revitalizing five million square meters (over 1,200 acres) lying in the quadrilateral between Rio Branco, Presidente Vargas, Francisco Bicalho and Rodrigues Alves avenues in the downtown neighborhoods of Gamboa, Santo Cristo and Saúde. The area also encompasses the hillside communities of Pinto, Conceição, Providência and Livramento along with parts of the neighborhoods of Cajú, São Cristóvão, Cidade Nova and Centro.

The challenge in accomplishing these transformations will be to promote change that benefits residents and visitors alike, while simultaneously preserving the area's cultural and architectural identity.

Municipal Statute 101/2009, which created Porto Maravilha, stipulates that at least 3% of the funds collected through Certificates of Potential Additional Construction (CEPACs) should be invested in recovering and celebrating this heritage and in fostering cultural activities in the area.

Cultural diversity and architecture portray the history of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil
The Port Region is the keeper of much of Rio de Janeiro's history. A stroll along its streets is enough to capture its rich tangible and intangible heritage. Works by major architects, rediscovered warehouses, expressions of Afro-Brazilian culture, royal mansions, early twentieth-century row houses and railway terminals are part of this diversity that tells the story of Rio and Brazil. Safeguarded under the law that created the Saúde, Gamboa and Santo Cristo Cultural Protection Area (APAC Sagas), the district is the birthplace of samba and has long been recognized for its cultural role in nurturing all types of artistic expression, which shapes the identity of these neighborhoods.

Created by the City of Rio to coordinate the Porto Maravilha project, Rio's Port Area Urban Development Company (CDURP) devised the Porto Maravilha Cultural Program. Funds are invested in restoring protected heritage property, in government initiatives and in supporting endeavors that value the region's assets. CDURP works in partnership with public institutions, civil society and private enterprise to implement these activities.

Main lines of action

Protecting and celebrating memory and cultural expressions
The "Grande Companhia de Mystérios e Novidades" (Great Company of Mysteries and Surprises) - a troupe of performance artists on stilts that combines dance, street theater and music - engages the community of Gamboa in cultural activities.

Celebrating intangible cultural heritage
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, stevedores gathered to dance samba at the homes of Afro-Brazilian women known as tias baianas in Pedra do Sal, where enslaved African dock workers unloaded cargo on piers and at warehouses. The samba tradition holds strong today, with the support of Porto Maravilha Cultural.

Uncovering the region's memory and sharing the knowledge
In 1996, in the heart of Gamboa, the owners of a private eighteenth-century home decided to remodel. They found a slave cemetery under the floor. Today, the New Blacks Institute preserves these finds and exhibits them to the public. The Institute also promotes research and offers courses and seminars.

Recovering and restoring tangible artistic and architectural heritage
Two municipal buildings will be restored to house cultural spaces: the José Bonifácio Cultural Center, which was the first public high school in Latin America, inaugurated in 1877 by Dom Pedro II, and the Gamboa Railway Terminal (cover), the first maritime rail terminal in the history of Brazilian engineering, built in 1880.

Leveraging tangible and intangible heritage as an economic resource while respecting the principles of integrity, sustainability and social inclusion and social development
The City of Rio has created the Historical and Archeological Circuit Celebrating African Heritage, an itinerary of notable places in the Afro-Brazilian cultural memory. Valongo and Empress Wharves, Hanging Garden of Valongo, Pedra do Sal, Largo do Depósito, New Blacks Institute and José Bonifácio Cultural Center are part of this circuit of visits of interest to students, residents, scholars and tourists.

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Última atualização: 24/01/2013