19 Apr

Espaço São José Liberto: reinventing the using of public enviroments

The Espaço José Liberto's by João Luccas

The building that actually covers the Space São José Liberto, in Belém-PA, has a rich history. In 1749 was built by the Capuchin Friars of Nossa Senhora da Piedade, to be a convent. But with the withdrawal of the Jesuits in Brazil, the building has suffered several changes including functional: powder magazine, hospital, pottery, barracks and the prison for many years, after many revolts was deactivated in 1998, undergoing a major renovation and reopened with the current role of Polo jeweler.

In the seventeenth century, the Jesuits were the Franciscans Amazon with intent to promote the missions in Brazil, however, the process of evangelization called a spatial and institutional organization to cover the missionaries, the immediate construction of convents was the solution adopted. In 1749, the friars tore down the old chapel and began construction of the Convent of São José holding their strictly religious function to the expulsion of the Jesuits by Pombal. A Jesuit education is not suited to commercial interests Pombal issued by the government, translating, if the schools of the Society of Jesus were intended to serve the interests of faith, the government Pombal wanted to organize a school to serve the interests of the state.

Public Prision

“Due to the expulsion of the friars of Mercy, her convent in Belém ofPará was occupied by the Government, which gave the most varied service roads. In 1750, the first use was given as powder magazine, then as barracks (when it covers in its premises a battalion of hiking), after a Cavalry Squadron, and the time of Governor D. Marcos de Noronha, in 1804, the artillery corps, created by the Charter on April 26, 1803. In 1835, the building served like a hospital, serving for the reception and recovery of the wounded in the battles of Cabanagem. With many wounded were under the auspices of justice or in the custody of loyalist militia, the building in 1843 became a public prison. ” by Ana Paula Maroja
In the nineteenth century, the chain has not had the institutional rules to follow, and there was no shame to imprison women with men. In addition, the planters asked that their slaves were punished in jail. During this period the death sentence in Brazil was in full rigor, these convicts were not separated from the others.

Inside the Oratory by João Luccas

“The São José’s also witnessed the last hours of prisoners sentenced to death, spent his last moments in the” oratory “before being escorted to the gallows that stood in the square of São José in front of the Public Prison.” (200, p. 15) COELHO, Allan Watrin.

After going through oratory, they were carried to São José, which was located in front of public prison, where they were hanged in the open. Each hanging was an important event, and had whole interest the local citizens.

In 1943, the prison had some changes, such as, new rules and buildings. Thus, it became really in a maximum security prison. But in government of MagalhãesBarata, the prison was undergoing administrative difficulties, then the governor appointed Anastácio das Neves as director of the prison. During his administration, many reforms was accomplished. The main reform was a new building attached to the first construction. Moreover, some rules was implemented. But this administration has undergone several criticisms to implement a kind of internal police, which was formed by the detainees themselves.

The Prision of São José's by João Luccas

On February 28, 1998, during the morning mass. Some prisoners armed with guns, that  they had stolen of prison guards, and others homemade weapons. They took the control of the prison. The rebelds required a escape apparatus, ammunition, body armor, guns and fast cars. This prison had capacity to 150 prisoners, while it had 300. The riot ended with a toll of four dead and three hurt, and none of the hostages was killed. Amoung the dead a leader of the riot, José Augusto Viana David, the Ninja. After that, the prison has been disabled by the government state, and the prisoners were transferred to the Metropolitan State Prison, in Marituba city.

The riot ended

In march 2001 began a restoration work of the old prison, after all those years serving as a place of deprivation of liberty. The building that already had several other roles, it becomes one of the most valuable tourist attractions of Pará. The inauguration of this new building happened in October 2002. Its restoration was a beaultiful work performed by a architect and landscape designer Filomena Mata Longo. The building is reborn as Espaço São José Liberto, hosting the Gems Museum of Pará the jewelers and craftsman house polo.

The New Beginnings by João Luccas

The grids are still the same places, but are open to the free movement of persons. Within a few saddles, are present: plates, pictures, some objects that were used by prisoners.

Picture by João Luccas

Currently the Espaço São José Liberto is administered by the institute of Gemas e Jóias da Amazônia (Igama), Social Organization (SO) classified by the government of the State of Pará in May 2007. This OS keeps a link with the Secretary of State for Devwelopment, Science and Tecnology (Sedect) and is also responsible for managing the Sector Development Program of Gems and Precious Metals from Pará state. Maintained by the state government, promoting actions to qualify designers, goldsmiths, gem cutters, artisans. Enabling professionals linked to the Polo Jewelers in areas such as marketing and discovering of new markets for jewel of Pará.

collection of handicraft


MAROJA, Ana Paula. O ESPAÇO SÃO JOSÉ (BELÉM-PA): Liberto dos grilhões da lei e preso às imagens do tempo. Trabalho de Conclusão de Curso apresentado ao Curso de Educação Artística. UNAMA. 2002.

COELHO, Allan Watrin. São José Liberto: Pesquisa histórica acerca do PresídioSão José. Belém: SECULT. 2000.

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