José Bonifácio Palace

Top photo: Tadeu Nascimento


The seat of Santos City Hall, the Palácio José Bonifácio honors one of the most illustrious Santos residents, José Bonifácio, the Father of Brazilian Independence. With statues of Mercury and Minerva  at the entrance, the building, constructed during the coffee boom years, is one of the few public buildings in São Paulo State that still has its original structure and most of its décor preserved. 

The Palace is full of symbolism, which refers to the philosophical past and historical importance of José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva. Inaugurated in January, 1939, after two years of building work, it is the fifth seat of Legislative Power – and the first to have its own building. Occupying a site of 2847.15m², the seven-story building weighs around 12,000 tons and was constructed with 2,050,000 bricks.


Designed by architect Plínio Botelho do Amaral, the building is eclectic in style, predominantly neo-classical in influence. The stained glass windows, staircases in worked stone, arches, great columns, Carrara marble and jacaranda finish, Bohemian crystal chandeliers, details in iron, as well as sculptures and frescos all confer beauty and stateliness to the building.


Photo: Anderson Bianchi


Statues of the Roman gods Minerva (Palas Athena in Greek mythology) and Mercury (Hermes) can be found at the building entrance, flanking the front steps. The former, symbol of wisdom, science and art, is on the right of those entering the building. On the left, the god of trade. The statues were made in granite by José Baptista Ferri, who donated them to the municipality in 1941.


Photo: Isabela Carrari

Main Foyer

The main foyer has an Italian and Portuguese marble floor. In addition to stairs with bronze handrails, there are two bronze statues from 1939, made by Luiz Morrone: ‘The Pioneer’, representing the original “bandeirantes” (explorers), and ‘The Catechist’, in honor of the Jesuit priests. At the top of the stairs sits a bust of the patriarch José Bonifácio, worked in glass fiber by Daniel Gonzalez and installed in 1995.


Photo: Tadeu Nascimento

Main Salon

Decorated in Luiz XVI style, the Main Salon boasts nine Bohemian crystal chandeliers, and wood furniture painted with gold leaf. The stucco work on the ceiling and around the doors represents foliage, coffee cherries and dolphins , reinforcing the French style. The floor is laid with marquetry and the curtain rods are Wedgwood (Werdwood no texto em português) bone china.  In 1992, the Main Salon received the name of Esmeraldo Tarquínio de Campos Filho, elected mayor in 1967 but removed by the military government before taking up office.


Photo: Francisco Arrais

Princess Isabel Room

Stained glass windows, frescos and paintings recount a little history in the Sala Princesa Isabel, which from 1948 to June, 2011 held Municipal Council sessions and events. Above the presiding officers desk hangs a painting of Princess Isabel, entitled “The Redeemer”, by Angelo Cantú. To the sides, above the access doors to the waiting room, hang two paintings by Mimi Alfaia: to the left, Martim Afonso de Souza and his expedition to the Island of Santo Amaro, and, to the right, Sâo João da Barra Fortress. At the entrance to the Sala Princesa Isabel, to the right, stands a statue of Martim Afonso de Souza, founder of São Vicente village, and, on the other side,  one of Braz Cubas, founder of Santos village, both the work of R. Mertig. He also painted the pictures on the walls that depict sea and rail transport, representing the port and the economy;  Agriculture, the goddess Minerva and industry. The Sala Princesa Isabel also boasts an impressive set of Bohemian crystal chandeliers, with special mention for the central one, 2.90 meters tall., 2 meters in diameter and weighing about 300 kilos. The  furniture in the assembly area , used by the city councilors, was made from caviuna, while that in the gallery is imbuia.


Photo: Francisco Arrais