Indepedência [Independence] Square
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Last update: 24/03/2020
Located in the district of Santo Antônio, in the heart of Recife, Independence Square was in the Mauritian City plan as Terreiro dos Coqueiros [Land of the Coconut Trees], where a large market operated during the Dutch dominion. In this period, the area was still called Grande Square, Commerce Square and Ribeira Square. In 1788, it contained 62 houses that sold basic necessities, having its name changed to Polé Square.
It should be noted that the name Polé stems from the fact that a barbarous torture instrument (strappado in English) operated in that square. It consisted of a raised mast, a pulley and a rope, for the purpose of supplicating individuals who had committed certain crimes. This instrument was placed in Independence Square only in the 18th century, coming from Fora de Portas, near Pilar.
In 1816, the location underwent a major renovation: its small houses were replaced by larger stores, and the place is renamed Union Square. Finally in 1833, the square acquires the name Independência [Independence].
At the beginning of the 20th century, more precisely in 1905, in order to enlarge it, whole blocks were demolished, as well as a series of small shops. Certain public thoroughfares, such as the streets Sigismondo Gonçalves and Rua do Cabugá, ceased to exist. Forty years later, the square doubled in size, acquiring more or less the dimensions that it has today and is popularly known as ‘Praça do Diario’ [because it is in front of the offices of the newspaper Diário do Pernambuco] or ‘Pracinha’ [Small Square]. Around it are the Santo Antônio Parish Church, Diario de Pernambuco – the oldest newspaper in Latin America – and several other modern buildings.
In 1945, some agitated rallies took place in Independence Square. In one of them on 3 March, the academic Demócrito de Sousa Filho was killed, shot in the forehead, while speaking on one of the newspaper’s balconies.
Several other reforms were undertaken in the second half of the 20th century. For example, Independence Square became the centre of the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of Pernambucan Restoration in 1954. A set of plaster sculptures – symbolising “the three races united against the invader” – as well as a triumph arc, both created by the remarkable sculptor Abelardo da Hora, were erected there.
In another reform, carried out in 1975, the bust of Francisco de Assis Chateaubriand Bandeira de Melo (1891-1968) was placed there with a pen in hand to write, also sculpted by Abelardo da Hora. On its pedestal, the following words are written:
To the eminent journalist Assis Chateaubriand, homage from the city of Recife.
Another tribute can be read, in a cement block:
The Municipality of Recife delivers to the People the new Independence Square, the landmark of our libertarian tradition, honouring the Diário de Pernambuco in the 150 years of its actions of civilising. Recife, 31-1-75. Mayor.
Independence Square is today considered as the one of busiest in the city of Recife. Through it cross and start avenues and streets of great importance, such as Rua Duque de Caxias, Rua 1º de Março, Avenida Dantas Barreto, Rua Nova, Avenida Guararapes, Largo do Rosário, Rua Matias de Albuquerque and Rua Engenheiro Ubaldo Gomes de Matos.
In addition, as the heart of the neighbourhood of Santo Antônio, it is in it that the great rallies are held and from it that parades, processions, civic processions and Carnival blocks march. This public area, therefore, continues to centralise the most recent events, manifestations and/or claims occurring in Pernambuco, in politics, religions, popular movements and culture.
Recife, 15 July 2003.
(Updated on 28 July 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, December 2016.
FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife: estátuas e bustos, igrejas e prédios, lápides, placas e inscrições históricas do Recife. Recife: Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1977.
ROCHA, Tadeu. Praças do Recife. Boletim da Cidade e do Porto do Recife, Recife, n. 63-70, jan./dez., 1957-1958.
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Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Praça da Independência. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <https://pesquisaescolar.fundaj.gov.br/en/> . Acesso em: dia mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.