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Pernambuco Governor’s Palace

The stage of great events and witness to important political meetings.

Pernambuco Governor’s Palace

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Last update: 24/03/2020

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

The idea for the construction of a new building for the provincial governors of Pernambuco, on the site of the former Fribourg Palace built by Maurice of Nassau, arose in the time of Governor José César de Menezes, in 1786.

However, it was only in 1841, during the government of Francisco do Rego Barros, later Count of Boa Vista, when the new palace for the Pernambuco governors was constructed, to replace the Royal Treasury building.

The design was by the engineer Colonel Moraes Âncora.

The new two-storey building had on its main façade a wide door in the middle, bordered by another four smaller, all surrounded by windows and facing towards the south-east of the city, and no longer towards the sea.

Before the visit to Pernambuco by Emperor Pedro II and his wife Empress Tereza Cristina, accompanied by a large contingent of nobles and authorities from the court, the Provincial President at the time, Luiz Barbalho Muniz Fiúza, appointed a commission, under his presidency, to deal with arrangements and preparations of transforming the palace, which would host the royal visitors, into an Imperial Palace.

After his stay in Pernambuco, Dom Pedro II wrote in his diary:

“The palace is very well organised: at the foot of the house they have also prepared for me a bath in the river,” but he highlights the following: “however, due to caution I will not bathe there...”

At the time, the park in front of the palace, formerly called the Campo da Honra (Field of Honour), was named Largo do Paço (Palace Square), but the people began to call it Campo das Princesas (Princesses’ Field) in honour of the Brazilian Emperor’s daughters, such was the sympathy of the people of Pernambuco for the royal family who had honoured the province with a long visit of nearly a month.

In 1980 the city officially named the square to Praça da República (Park of the Republic), although the expression Campo das Princesas remains till today.

After this golden era of the Imperial Palace, the Governor’s Palace fell into a routine, and a new reform occurred only in 1873. A new building connected to the main building was built towards the back, without disturbing its frontal and dimensional architecture, to serve as the governor’s residence, as well as two separate others destined for general services.

Through the action of the José Rufino Bezerra Cavalcanti government, in 1920, the building was totally reformed once again, with another addition built which encompassed the entire body of the building, making it larger. The previous small buildings were demolished, making way for a park/garden, and new buildings were constructed for the use of State Secretaries. The architectural structures then became what they resemble today.

The palace’s lighting system was the most modern and the largest that had ever been done in Pernambuco up to that time. It was made up of 75 spots, with a total of 75,000 candles, with the entire installation being built into walls with lead conductors, which was an innovation at the time. Luxurious crystal Louis-XVI-style chandeliers were placed in every hall and chamber, along with various ornamental sconces (wall lights) that together with the chandeliers made a total of 143 lighting sources.

The upgrades were finished in 1922, during the interim government of Severino Pinheiro due to the death of Governor José Rufino Bezerra Cavalcanti.

During the Estácio Coimbra government, from 1926 to 1930, the palace was remodelled, decorated and furnished, and in 1967 it served as the seat of the Republic government at the time of President Arthur da Costa e Silva and Governor Nilo de Sousa Coelho.

The stage of great events and witness to important political meetings, the Palace in the Field of the Princesses has preserved on the same site, chosen Count Maurice of Nassau, the seat of government in Pernambuco since the 17th Century.
Recife, 11 May 2004.
(Updated on 31 August 2009).

Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2012.

sources consulted

FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife: estátuas e bustos, igrejas e prédios, lápides, placas e inscrições históricas do Recife. Recife: Governo do Estado de Pernambuco. Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1977. p. 67-71.

GUERRA, Flávio. De Friburgo ao Campo das Princesas: nota histórica dos palácios de governo em Pernambuco. Recife: Governo do Estado de Pernambuco, [Casa Civil], 1966.  54p.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Pernambuco Governor’s Palace. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009