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Faculdade de Direito do Recife

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Faculdade de Direito do Recife

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Last update: 05/05/2014

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Through a Proclamation of Law by Emperor Pedro I on 11 August 1827, created simultaneouslywere two courses of judicial and social sciences, one in the city of São Paulo and the other in Olinda.

Known as ‘CursosJurídicos’ (Juridical Courses), that of Olinda was the origin of the ‘Faculdade de Direito do Recife’ (Recife Faculty of Law), set up on 15 May 1828, at the São Bento monastery and operating from rooms conceded by the Benedictine monks.

For the Course’s inauguration, a large ceremony was held with the presence of civil and ecclesiastical authorities, artillery salutes, and the celebration of a TeDeum(Catholic religious service) to give thanks, with the city illuminated for three days.

Classes began that year on 2 June, with 41 students from various Brazilian states and other countries like Angola and Portugal enrolled after having passes preparatory examinations. The first bachelors’ class in Juridical Sciences graduated in 1832.

In 1852, the Course was transferred from the São Bento monastery to the palace of the former governors, a reformed building situated at the top of Ladeira do Varadouroin Olinda, which became known by the name Academia.

In 1854, the Academia moved to Hospício Stin Recife, occupying an old manor that was hardly adequate for its role, and for this reason it was nicknamed the ‘Pardieiro’ (shack).

In 1912, it moved to the building where it continues to function today, on Dr Adolfo Cirne Square in Recife, after the conclusion of its construction by the Government of the Republic.

The building, built by José de Almeida Pernambuco, covers an area of 3,600 square metres, is surrounded by gardens and its architectural design – eclectic with a predominantly neo-classic style – was by French architect GustaveVarin.

The Recife Faculty of Law, from its first years of existence, was not only a centre for producing graduates, but was principally a school of Philosophy, Science and Letters, becoming famous for the discussions and controversies that excited the society at the time.

The institution’s glory days were under the influence of Tobias BarretoJoaquim Nabuco and Castro Alves.

It was at the Recife Faculty of Law where the intellectual, poetical, critical, philosophical, sociological, folkloric and juridical movement known as the Escola do Recife (Recife School) was born and flourished in the 1860s to 1880s, and whose leader was Sergipe-born Tobias Barreto de Meneses. Other important figures in the movement were Sílvio Romero, Artur Orlando, Clovis Bevilaqua, Capistrano de Abreu, Graça Aranha, Martins Júnior, Faelante daCâmara, Urbano Santos, Abelardo Lobo, Vitoriano Palhares, José Higino, Araripe Júnior and Gumercindo Bessa.

It has a large library with over 100,000 volumes, many of them precious and rare, in the areas of law, philosophy, history and literature, including having in its care the library that belonged to Tobias Barreto. It has published its Revista Acadêmica (Academic Magazine) since 1891.

In 1922, as part of the national independence centenary celebrations, there was a solemn session in the noble hall, and four trees were planted around the building: two ‘visgueiros’ (Parkiapendula)and two palm trees, which were given the names Epitácio Pessoa, President of the Republic, honoured for his services to the country’s Northeast region; Otávio Tavares, professor at the Faculty and mayor of Recife; Neto Campelo, director and professor; and Samuel Hardmann, donor of the trees.

In 1924, the eminent Pernambuco native Manuel de Oliveira Lima was elected honorary professor at the Faculty.

Many of its lecturers have become famous for public speaking, juridical knowledge and general culture.

Nilo Pereira, one of the many intellectuals who have graduated from the institution, in his book Pernambucanidade (‘Pernambuconicity’) (Recife, 1983, v.1, p.252) said:

The Faculty is germinal. It radiated throughout the Northeast. It was and is present within the Regional Universities that were created. It produced graduates who left Recife ... who built, on the foundations of juridical humanism, the Faculties of Law of neighbouring States. To it have come generations anxious to learn, future magistrates, lawyers, jurists, journalists, diplomats, statesmen, members of parliament, State ministers, Imperial advisors, writers, poets, tribunes, politicians [...]

The Recife Faculty of Law today belongs to the Federal University of Pernambuco.

Recife, 24 july 2003.
(Updated on 20 august 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.

sources consulted

BEVILAQUA, Clovis. História da Faculdade de Direito do Recife. 2.ed. Brasília: INL; Conselho Federal de Cultura, 1977.

FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife. Recife: Governo de Pernambuco, SEC, 1977. p. 175.

PARAÍSO, Rostand Carneiro Leão. A casa de Octávio de Freitas: memória apresentada à Academia Pernambucana de Letras, 1977.

PINTO FERREIRA, Luiz. História da Faculdade de Direito do Recife. Recife: UFPE, Ed. Universitária, 1980.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Recife Faculty of Law. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.