Saint Catherine’s Mount marks the foundation of Santos – knowing the exact spot of its foundation is a privilege that few cities in the world enjoy. This small mount bears the name of the chapel that existed at the foot of this small hill, built in 1532.
In 1591, English pirate Thomas Cavendish sacked the city, destroyed the chapel and threw the statue of Saint Catherine of Alexandria into the sea. After 72 years, while fishing with a net, Jesuit slaves happened to take the statue out of the water by chance.
The first Santa Casa de Misericórdia hospital in Brazil was installed next to the chapel in 1543. For years the mount supplied stones for the paving of the roads and extension of the port.
Viewed from afar, the mural looks like an abstract painting. But close up the apparent blotches are in fact stylized faces of various sizes, on each of the 1452 tiles that cover the wall, which is 48 meters long and 4.8 meters high. The 230m² mural by local artist Mário Gruber represents the identification of strangers in the middle of a multitude. Painted by hand, the pieces in black and white sandstone, honor the writer, dramatist and poet Clay Gama de Carvalho, who became anonymous when the military government confiscated the manuscript for his work ‘American Literature in Exile’. The same art was in an exhibition at the United Nations for the democratization of South Africa.
Between 1880 and 1884, Italian doctor João Éboli had the castellated house built on the slab of rock that remained of the mount. Supported on the rock, the building was developed on three levels connected by stairs, adjusting to the topography of the terrain. Ogive doors and windows, as well as crenellated parapets, reproduce the shape of a castle. It is believed that the architecture was inspired by medieval buildings in the Italian region where the doctor was born. The headquarters of Fams (Archive and Memory of Santos Foundation) functioned here until 2012.
Abolitionist and republican, João Éboli, used to hide runaway slaves in the crevices of the rock, underneath his house. Today the space exhibits various pieces and fragments of crockery used by the family, found during the excavations. In 1922, the Santos City Council recognized the mount as the foundation point of the settlement of Santos and put up a plaque as follows: "This rock is what remains of Saint Catherine’s Mount and it was here that Brás (Braz) Cubas initiated the foundation of this settlement, establishing at the same time, in 1543, the Hospital de Misericórdia, invoking All the Saints, who gave their name to this city and to the first charitable institution to be established in Brazil.