Top photo: Ronaldo Andrade
The only construction in Neo-Manueline style in São Paulo State and one of the few in Brazil, this building was inaugurated in 1900, still unfinished, after two years’ work – the project by two Portuguese engineers was concluded in the following year. In 1945, the Royal Portuguese Center was renamed the Portuguese Center and in 2006, merging with the Portuguese Social Union, was given the name of Portuguese Cultural Center. The older building is the administrative and cultural headquarters, while the other unit holds social activities.
Built thanks to donations, auctions, raffles and bazaars, the building has motifs belonging to the Neo-Manueline style: rounded arched windows and doors with ropes, stars, crucifixes, royal shields and armillary spheres between columns in the form of slender columns with spiraled tips. Other constructions in the same style are: the Royal Portuguese Reading Room (1880-1887) and the Portuguese Literary Lyceum, in Rio de Janeiro; the Portuguese Reading Room, in Salvador (Bahia, 1915-1918), and the Henry Gibson Mansion in Recife (Pernambuco, 1847).
Photo: Ronaldo Andrade
Cardinal Cerejeira Room
The old Games Room and Checkers Room honors the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, who visited the building in 1946. It has a Steinway & Sons piano (1876), and a steel safe with glass lid that came from Portugal in 1947, which contains soil from Guimarães Castle (the birthplace of Portuguese nationality) and stones from the Sagres Promontory, where Dom Henrique founded his school of nautical studies and from where the first ships set sail, in search of discoveries. Along with these is an 1880 edition of Os Lusíadas (with a dedication to Dom Pedro II), the epic poem in which Luiz de Camões describes in verse the history of Portugal and extols the feats of its people.
Photo: Ronaldo Andrade
Decorated by Spanish artists Antonio Fernandez and João Bernils, this room is rich in details and curiosities: a chair made from local wood (araribá-do-norte ), built for the king, Dom Carlos, (he was due to come to Santos in 1911 but was assassinated in Portugal two months before the date scheduled for the visit); tables carved with the royal symbol; oil paintings; ceiling panels reproducing verses from Os Lusíadas; paintings by Benedicto Calixto (1905) and Charleaux (1953) on the walls, among other works by unknown artists.
Photo: Rosangela Menezes
Camões Grotto, in Macau (song I, stanza X)
Thou shat see Love of land that ne´er shall own
lust of vile lucre; soaring towards th´Eternal:
For ´t is no light ambition to be known
th´acclaimèd herald of my nest paternal.
Hear; thou shalt see the great names grenter grown
of Vavasors who hail thee Lord Supernal:
So shalt thou judge which were the higher station,
King of the world or Lord of such a nation.
Englished by Richard Francis Burton
Photo: Portuguese Cultural Center Collection