10 Apr

Estação das Docas of Belém do Pará: a rescue of the history of city’s port.

The capital of Pará, Belém, is present in important passages of the history of Brazil and in poems of great writers of national repute, such as Manuel Bandeira and Mário de Andrade. In addition, Belém impresses in various ways, by the history, culture, the people, the streets surrounded by mango trees or the usual rain that falls every afternoon, these features make it exceptional, leaving sated the desire to know the city and stressing the admiration and the good memories of the place.

The first picture shows the famous streets of Belém surrounded by mango trees; the second image brings the typical rain that falls every afternoon in the capital of Para.

The origin of Belém is linked to the construction of the fort “Presépio de Belém”, by Francisco Caldeira Castelo Branco, in 1616, that came some time after gives origin to the city of Santa Maria de Belém do Grão-Pará, and later in Belém do Pará, the first capital of the Amazon (Coimbra. 2002). With almost 400 years old, the city passed by deep urban transformations and marked important moments in the history of Brazil, as the period of the settlement (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries), the cabanagem (early nineteenth century) and the period of the rubber (in twentieth century), in this moment the city received a large number of families from Europe. All those factors directly influenced the architecture of the city, existing until today the facades of the mansions of the Historic Center of Belém, churches and chapels throughout the colonial period and the imposing buildings of that period.

Like the most part of the cities in the colonial period, usually located near rivers and seas, Belém is surrounded by the bay Guajará – formed by the meeting of the mouth of the river Guamá and the mouth of the river Acará – is the gateway to the region Amazon. The port of Belém, capable of simultaneously receiving large ships, had (and still has) a great influence on trade and transportation in the city. The first port appeared in the form of a simple anchorage, near to the terrace where it was installed the fort of Presépio and, throughout the seventeenth century, it served as the anchorage port city, represented only by a stone ramp. From the second half of the eighteenth century, under the influence of the governor of Grão-Pará, Francisco Xavier de Mendonça Furtado, was established the Companhia Geral do Grão-Pará e Maranhão (General Company of Grão-Pará and Maranhão), that brought so much prosperity to the region (Calman. 1963).

Present view of Belém pictured from the middle of the bay Guajará.

During the nineteenth century, the movement commercial in Belém increased significantly and the exports were in high bulk, which made necessary to build a new port, another factor that made it essential was because the river trips throughout the state were enlarged. But what really propelled the construction of a new port was the export of rubber, which at the end of the century, reached very high levels. In 1897, the Federal Government commissioned the engineer Sérgio Domingos de Sabóia e Silva a study viewing at building a new port. From this study, opened a Public Tender for the works of the new port of Belém, in 1902, but this first competition was not achieved because the contractors did not sign the papers on time. In this way, on April 18, 1906, opened a new competition, won by American engineer Percival Farquar.

To take forward the project, Farquar organized the Companhia Port of Pará (Port of Pará Company), in the offices of the Corporation Trust C°, in Portland, United States. Farquar obtained the approval of his project by the renowned firm S. Pearson Sons, responsible for the construction of the ports of Liverpool and London. Farquar and the engineer responsible for the work, W. Pearson, began building the armor of the port, placing large blocks of prefabricated concrete that were settled and interconnected, while simultaneously the bottom of the bay Guajará was excavated to increase the depth and the area where the warehouses were built was grounded.

The works continued apace and in the year of 1914 were built 1869 meters of quay, 13 warehouses of steel structure and 6500 meters of railways, for loading and unloading of the port were installed 11 electric cranes and the dock was lit by 2200 light bulbs. But with the rubber crisis, and the World War I, the works in the port has been compromised and paralyzed. The crisis lasted until 1940, when the Companhia Port of Pará passed to be controlled by the Federal Government of Brazil. In 1967, was founded the Companhia Docas do Pará (Dock of the Pará Company), whose the function was to realize the administration of ports and terminals of Pará, acting in this capacity until the present day.

With the time, an area of the warehouses at the port of Belém became in disuse and the region was fairly marginalized, with assaults, drug use, prostitution frequently. However, in 2000, the area was presented to the city completely rebuilt with a modern proposal for a new tourist site in Belém. The Estação das Docas (Docks of the Station), as it came to be called, is the result of a careful process of restoration and revitalization of the warehouses that were located in the old port in Belém. The three sheds of english iron that make up the complex, characteristic of the architecture of the nineteenth century, were recovered and combined with new materials (glass panels, air-cooled, new lighting, appliances technological) that gave an aspect totally renovated and greatly enhancing the local. The Estação das Docas was opened on May 13, 2000, and is currently one of the spaces in the capital of Pará that more refer to the Amazon region, in aspects of artistic, cultural and gastronomic center, bringing a new life to the area.

The complex Estação das Docas.

With 500 meters of coastline and 32000 square meters of built area, the Estação is divided in three iron sheds, a modern floating anchorage, a passenger terminal, an amphitheater made from the ruins of the Fort San Pedro Nolasco (built in 1665) and Maria Sylvia Nunes theater. The sheds were called of Warehouse and each Warehouse was baptized of according to the activity that it developed – The Warehouse 1 is called the Boulevard of the Arts, the Warehouse 2 became the Boulevard de Cuisine, and the Warehouse 3 is known as the Boulevard of the Trade Fair and Exhibitions. In the outer area to the hangars can still be admired the cranes manufactured in the United States in the early twentieth century, and the steam engine, built in the mid-1800s, which provided power for the equipments of the port. It is a space that you cannot let go when visiting Belém.

Internal and external images of the Estação das Docas.

The capital of Pará, also known as “the metropolis of the Amazon”, currently guarantees structure and logistics for those who want to know and perceive the local culture. For those who want to follow the paces and strength of the people of Belém and with this feel the force of the Amazonian people too, the Estação das Docas is the right place, because through a serious work of planning, succeeded in restoring an area that was into disuse and gathered in only one space important characteristics of the Pará culture, like the cooking, rhythms, artistic expressions, etc. showing to the those who interested the true riches of this fascinating place.

Bibliographical References

CALMON, Pedro. História do Brasil (Século XVI – Conclusão, As Origens. Século XVII – Formação Brasileira). Volume II. 2ª Edição. Livraria José Olympio. Rio de Janeiro. 1963.

COIMBRA, Oswaldo. A Saga dos Primeiros Construtores de Belém. Imprensa Oficial do Estado. 2002.

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