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Arco do Telles – From Colonial Rio to the current days

Arco do Telles – From Colonial Rio to the current days

You have probably heard about the Telles Arch. This is an architectural landmark in the city of Rio de Janeiro and is located at Praça XV, one of the most important squares in the city as well. Read a little more about this important historical point in this post!

WHERE IS ARCO DO TELLES?

Located at XV Square, Arco do Telles, is right in Rio de Janeiro city center. The arc is an important historical landmark for the city and connects the Travessa do Comércio (until the early twentieth century, the street was considered one of the main centers of Portuguese immigrants in the city) to Praça XV.

See more details about XV Square in Rio de Janeiro City Center. Read our post!

praça-xv-arco

WHAT IS THE STORY OF ARCO DO TELLES?

It all starts around 1738, after the approval of Gomes Freire de Andrade’s project, the House of Governors (the current Imperial Palace) began to be built. When construction was finally completed in 1743, the area began to gain much attention and appreciation.

TELLES DE MENEZES FAMILY

Given this, the Portuguese judge Antônio Telles Barreto de Menezes, bought some land in this area. He had the idea to build a set of houses for rent to the city’s upper-class merchants.

The building is dated from the eighteenth century. The Telles de Menezes family were known for their monopoly of the Orphan Court and other courts in the city of Rio de Janeiro for many years.

THE IDEA OF THE ARC

When construction began Portuguese engineer José Alpoim (responsible for the Imperial Palace) noted that there was an aggravating factor. The set of houses of the judge would totally close Travessa do Comércio (former Fish Market). The solution would be to create an arc right in the middle of the buildings.

travessa-do-comercio

When construction began Portuguese engineer José Alpoim (responsible for the Imperial Palace) noted that there was an aggravating factor. The set of houses of the judge would totally close Travessa do Comércio (former Fish Market). The solution would be to create an arc right in the middle of the buildings.

DETAIL

Many people of the high society, also frequented the region for devotion to Our Lady of Pleasures, since there was a place inside the arch with the image of the saint.

MYSTERIOUS FACT

In 1790, there was a fire in a store near Primeiro de Março Street (former Rua Direita). The fire spread and hit much of the Telles de Menezes family set of houses. Unfortunately, all that remains today is Arco do Telles.

For some people the fire was criminal, since much of the Senate documents that worked in the building were lost. Important documents included documentation of the city’s first receipts and collections, and general real estate records.

arco-do-telles-placa

With the incident, the high society that resided in the region, moved to other places and the area had a huge devaluation. This area was then inhabited by the homeless, including thieves and prostitutes.

CURIOSITY

After the devaluation of the area, the image of Our Lady of Pleasures was removed from the place by the surrounding residents.

These people believed that the image couldn’t be in an area with movement of people with low social level. The image was relocated to the Church of Santo Antônio dos Pobres (Invalidos Street, downtown Rio), being there until the present day.

Read more details and curiosities of Downtown of Rio de Janeiro. The city is full of attractions and the city center is one of them, enjoy!

PORTUGUESE ROYAL FAMILY ARRIVAL

The arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family in Brazil and more precisely in Rio de Janeiro, brought to the region, again the prestige and appreciation. The royal family was housed in the Imperial Palace in XV Square.

After a while with the era of modernization in the city, other regions became more attractive to society. And again this area was a little forgotten.

See more details about Paço Imperial and the Portuguese royal family arrival in this post: Paço Imperial.

TIP

Join our Free Walking Tour Downtown and Lapa. We’ll tell the whole history of Brazil from the colonial period to the present day. You can also visit many sights and historical places in the city such as Arco do Telles.

downtown-and-lapa-cloudy-day

ARCO DO TELLES IN THE 21st CENTURY

Nowadays, Arco do Telles and region is well known as a place for happy hours, some events and celebrations. The streets are full of bars and restaurants. Cultural movements and carnival celebrations always happen in this area.

arco-bares

The place is quite frequented mainly by the strategic location, being in the city center. This zone is an exclusive pedestrian area, cars are not allowed to pass on Travessa do Comércio and Arco do Telles. The street is paved and has a touch of Old Rio de Janeiro with flat stones.  

Protected by the Historical Heritage, Arco do Telles survives in the middle of many new buildings resulting from twentieth century modernity. Contrast very present, especially in downtown Rio de Janeiro.

CURIOSITY – FAMOUS HOUSES

Two portuguese lived in this area. One is known as an urban legend and the other a great artist who has been successful in Brazil and around the world. Read.

BARBARA DOS PRAZERES 

This Portuguese immigrant lived in a building very close to  Arco do Telles after the fire that happened in 1970. She was a prostitute. After she began to age and could no longer get clients because of her looks, she began to engage in “black magic” rituals.

Popular legend says that Barbara was responsible for the disappearance of some children at that time. They would be used in the rituals of searching for her rejuvenation.

CARMEM MIRANDA 

If you walk along Travessa do Comércio, you can see the house with number 13. There was where lived the family of Portuguese singer Carmem Miranda. That’s right, Portuguese.

Many think Carmem was Brazilian, but she wasn’t. In this house, there was a pension of meal and the residence of Dona Maria, mother of Carmen. They lived in the townhouse for six years.

carmem-miranda

DETAIL

Carmem Miranda was always at Lapa. Surely, it was the most carioca Portuguese, that Rio ever had. Have you met the neighborhood of Lapa? Give a read, in our post about this party neighborhood: Lapa – Rio de Janeiro.

TIP

Prefer to visit Rua do Ouvidor, Travessa do Comércio and Arco do Telles on weekdays. During the weekends, if there are no celebrations and events like when it’s carnival for example, there will not be a high circulation of people in the region, so watch out! 😉

  telles-arcos

What did you think about this iconic place in the city center? Arco do Telles is a piece of the Old Rio.

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