By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Officials reopened Rio de Janeiro’s Praça Mauá (Mauá Square) on Sunday, September 6th, after four years of renovations. The opening was celebrated with a day of events including capoeira performances, food trucks, and live music by samba schools and bloco bands.
Due to the demolition of Rio’s Elevado da Perimetral, and following the years of renovations, the Praça Mauá is now approximately 25,000 square meters, six times larger than its original size. The square now stretches to the edges of Guanabara Bay with a clear view of the waterfront.
Also as part of the renovations, restorations were made on the square’s statue of Irineu Evangelista de Souza, the Visconde of Mauá. Created by the sculptor Rodolfo Bernardelli and placed in the Praça Mauá in 1910, the statue honors de Souza, the industrial pioneer and Brazilian diplomat after whom the square was named.
The area will also be the future home of Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) and bike lanes and walkways. “The whole area will have special landscaping,” Washington Fajardo, president of the Instituto Rio Patrimônio da Humanidade (Rio Institute World Heritage Site) told Veja Rio, later adding, “It will be a small urban revolution.”
The president of the Society of Development Region Urban Port of Rio de Janeiro (CDURP), Alberto Gomes, company managing tPorto Maravilha, told government press, “The impact of revitalization on people is interesting. Many are impressed with the urbanization of the Porto Maravilha area and say they can hardly remember where [the highway overpass was]. The transformation of the landscape is a reference of the transformation of the concept of city and mobility. The Praça Mauá is the center of a new area of coexistence that Rio gains.”
Part of Porto Maravilha, the ongoing project to revitalize Rio de Janeiro’s Port Zone, the new Praça Mauá marks the first opening of the Orla Conde, a 3.5 kilometers area located between the Port Zone’s Armazém 8 (warehouse 8) on Pier Maua and the Praça da Misericórdia.
“This here, above all, is the rescue of the history of the city,” said Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes, who was in attendance for the Praça Mauá’s reopening ceremony. “This is the end of a city that fled their problems, trying to break new boundaries without preserving its identity and its history.”