Overview of Rio de Janeiro
On the 1st of January 1502, the first Portuguese expedition to explore the coast of Brazil arrived. On entering the Guanabara Bay, and believing it to be the mouth of a great river, they gave it the name Rio de Janeiro (‘river of January’).
Later Rio de Janeiro saw other expeditions, and raids by pirates. The Portuguese reacted by sending an armed force under the command of Captain Estácio de Sá, who founded the city of Rio de Janeiro on the 1st of March 1565.
The French, and their allies the Tamoio Indians, were only finally expelled in 1567. Little by little the city took shape, expanding along the coast of the bay and around lakes and mangrove swamps. The arrival of important Portuguese families was accompanied by that of religious orders –the Carmelites, Benedictines and Franciscans- who erected grandiose buildings, many of which still survive to the present day. The Santa Casa de Misericórdia, constructed in neoclassical style in Rua Santa Luzia, was the city’s first hospital.
It was built under the direction of Father José de Anchieta in 1582, when Rio had less than 5,000 inhabitants. One of Rio’s oldest churches, the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo/Antiga Sé, was founded in 1590 when the Carmelites arrived in the city. It began with the donation of a small chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of O (aka Our Lady of the Expectation). During the 17th and 18th Centuries the friars built a large convent beside the chapel.
It was used to accommodate members of the Royal Family in 1808. The church became the Royal Chapel and Cathedral. It saw the consecration of Dom João VI; the wedding of Dom Pedro I, future Emperor of Brazil; and many other important Imperial occasions. Amongst the religious buildings of The early 17th Century, the Monastery of São Bento is still standing. Designed in 1617 by the engineer Francisco de Frias Mesquita, it’s located in the city centre. Its interior is marked by the most expressive of baroque works. The Santo Antônio Convent and Church, erected from 1608, has seen a few alterations over the years but still maintains its sumptuous style.
When it was built, the church was a stimulus for the wider development of the surrounding area, including the construction of homes and the laying out of important streets such as Rua da Vala. Since then the city has lived through several phases of development and experienced changing roles, but it’s always played an important part in the history of the country. The progress of the city accelerated in the 18th Century, with the discovery of gold deposits in a region bordering Rio. The resulting economic boom led to the construction of important public works such as the Carioca Aqueduct -better known as the Lapa Arches (Arcos da Lapa)- which was built to carry drinking water to the urban centre.
During this period mangrove swamps and lagoons became reclaimed land, enabling the creation of new urban spaces such as the Santo Antônio Field, now known as Largo da Carioca in Centro. Rio grew as a point of reference for Brazil, and in 1763 the Marquis de Pombal transferred the colonial capital to Rio.
The arrival of the Royal Family in 1808, fleeing the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal, increased still further the importance of the city. It moved in sequence from being the headquarters of the Viceroy, to being the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve, and finally capital of the Empire of Brazil – the latter from 1822, the year of Brazil’s independence. In 1889, with the Proclamation of the Republic, Rio became the capital of the Brazilian federation – a role it kept until 1960 and the inauguration of Brasília.
Rio de Janeiro has been the stage for many of the major events that have shaped Brazil: facts that have marked out the times and left -as part of the country’s history- milestones, cultural heritage, monuments and buildings that are still standing.
Taken from www.riodejaneiro.com – History
We welcome any questions, feedback, or suggestions you may have regarding this website or other resources. Please contact us.