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Palace Of Justice [Recife, Pe]

 The Palace of Justice is the headquarters of the Pernambuco Judiciary and houses the rooms and offices of the State Justice Tribunal.

Palace Of Justice [Recife, Pe]

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Last update: 24/03/2020

By: Virginia Barbosa - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

The Palace of Justice is the headquarters of the Pernambuco Judiciary and houses the rooms and offices of the State Justice Tribunal.

History records that the Pernambuco Justice Tribunal began during the reign of Dom John VI, from 6 February 1821. At the time it was called the ‘Pernambuco Relation Tribunal’ and was established in an area inside the old Jesuit College of Recife, on 13 August 1822.

The Tribunal offices were transferred several times: from the Jesuit College to the buildings of the old Treasury (demolished in 1840), then to the Governor’s Palace on 12 July 1838. It returned to the Jesuit College, and operated at the Old Jail, on Imperador St, until its dissolution on 8 January 1892, when the Superior Justice Tribunal was created. From then it worked out of a building located between the current Public Archives and the State Revenue Service until it moved to the imposing Palace of Justice, located on the corner of Emperor Pedro II St, facing the Park of the Republic.

It was during the government of Sérgio Loreto that the construction of the Palace of Justice received special attention, whose cornerstone was laid on 2 July 1924, in commemoration of the centennial of the Confederation of the Equator. At the beginning of that century, Recife was undergoing European-influenced urban changes, mainly Parisian, which steered the city’s improvements and beautifications. The Loreto government work projects were: “the conclusion of the Police HQ and Derby Park; the construction of Beira-Mar (Seaside) Ave (today Boa Viagem Ave); the dredging of the port of Recife and the amplification of some quays and docks to allow the entrance and berthing of large ships; the construction of the second main water line from Gurjaú, and of the Floresta-Cabrobó-Boa Vista and Floresta-Salgueiro-Leopoldina-Ouricuri roads; they restored educational buildings and gave special attention to teacher training.”

The place chosen to erect the Palace of Justice (Antonio Vaz Island, Santo Antonio Neighbourhood) was occupied by five buildings on João do Rego St, by the Barracks of the Public Force and by the Friars of St Francis monastery (the former ward wing): the former facing the Park of the Republic; the latter also facing the same park.

The eclectic-style design for the construction of the Palace of Justice, approved in 1924 by the chief-engineer of the Complementary Works of the Port, was made by the Italian architect and graduate from the Paris School of Fine Arts, Giácomo Palumbo (1891-1966), with the assistance of Evaristo de Sá. It was the fourth design presented. The first, in 1917, was by architect Heitor Mello, professor at the Rio de Janeiro School of Fine Arts. The second was by Giácomo Palumbo, in a Louis XVI style, on a smaller scale than the approved design; and the third was by architect and painter Henrique Moser.

The construction of the Palace of Justice took around six years to be finished (it was inaugurated on 7 September 1930 during the Estácio Coimbra government) and had a period when work stopped: from 29 December 1926 until work began again on 7 March 1928. Incidentally, when work restarted, the design was reworked by the architect himself, Palumbo, at the request of the Directory of Public Works, which had taken over the construction. Nevertheless, the Palace of Justice was completely finished during the Carlos de Lima Cavalcanti government: the purchase of furniture and final touches in the building’s areas.

The Palace covers an area of 2,506m2 and is five storeys. The dome is slightly lower than it was supposed to be in the original design. The stained-glass windows were made by the German Heinrich Moser and represent the first State Legislative Assembly. He is also the painter of an image that represents Justice that can be seen in the current main courtroom of the Tribunal.

On the façade, in front of the dome, two groups of allegoric sculptures to justice and to law by the Pernambuco artist Bibiano Silva can be seen, entitled “Justice and the Family” and Justice and Man”. He also sculptured the busts of Pernambuco jurists [Francisco de] Paula Batista and Gervásio Pires, located in the Sala dos Passos Perdidos (Hall of the Lost Steps).

From its inauguration until our time, the interior of the Palace, in terms of the areas and their uses, have undergone many changes. An example of this is the Sala de Casar (Hall of Marriage), where civil weddings were carried out, is today the impressive Salão Nobre (Noble Chamber).

The city of Recife, from the beginning of the 1930s, could then boast four  historic monuments in the Park of the Republic: the Governor’s Palace and Palace of Justice, Santa Isabel Theatre and the Arts and Crafts Lyceum. It is a mandatory stop for tourist in Pernambuco.
Recife, 29 May 2009.
(Updated on 14 September 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2012.

sources consulted

MENEZES, José Luiz Mota; REINAUX, Marcílio. Palácio da Justiça. 2. ed. rev. e ampl.Recife: Gráfica e Editora Liceu, 1997.

PALÁCIO da Justiça. Disponível em: . Acesso em: 22 maio 2009.

how to quote this text

Source: BARBOSA, Virgínia. Palace Of Justice [Recife, Pe]. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009