The impact of intense rain and landslides on the approximately one thousand listed properties in the federal sphere of Petrópolis is still unknown. The historic center of the so-called “Imperial City”, a summer destination for the monarchy and presidents of the Republic, was covered in mud on Tuesday, 15th, reaching historic properties, with the overthrow of a railing of the former Casa da Princesa Isabel and flooding. from the ground floor of the Rio Negro Palace, for example.
There are currently no official records of major structural damage. The tragedy is one of the biggest in the city of Rio de Janeiro, which has recorded more than a hundred deaths and continues to search for the missing. Employees of museums and other institutions that worked in the spaces were impacted in different ways, with the loss of family members and homes.
The National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (Iphan) reported that it carries out inspections. “We will have more accurate information in the coming days and weeks”, he pointed out in a note, in which he highlights that the main focus of the public authorities is to search for victims, support the homeless and displaced and identify areas of greatest risk.
“The inspections that have already been carried out have not been conclusive, due to the difficulty of locomotion and the large number of debris and mud on the street”, he continues. “The situation may be aggravated by the rains forecast for the next few days, so the real dimension of the impact on the city’s Cultural Heritage can only be measured after the completion of these works.”
The term “open-air museum” is used to describe the city. In a previous statement, the federal authority had informed that the technical office it maintains in the region (in an annex to the Rio Negro Palace) “is not able to function in person”, without reporting the damage. On Saturday, the 12th, he had already announced that he did not have a working telephone line, also because of the rains.
“Heir of the lands acquired by his father, Dom Pedro II promoted the urbanization of the city and turned it into the seat of the imperial court during the summer seasons. With extensive protected areas at the federal level, Petrópolis brings together history, landscaping and architectural excellence, constituting one of the main landmarks of Brazilian Cultural Heritage”, highlighted the institute.
The railing and a wall of the former Casa da Princesa Isabel were knocked down during the rain. Internal damage at the site has not yet been reported by those responsible, heirs of the former imperial family, which maintains the Casa Imobiliária Petrópolis on site and had an exhibition with papier-mâché sculptures.
The former residence was purchased by the princess and the Count D’Eu in 1876 from Barão do Pilar, a member of the first board of directors of Banco do Brasil. On the porch steps, one of the last photographs of D. Pedro II and his family in Brazilian lands was taken, days before the Proclamation of the Republic.
At the Palácio Rio Negro Museum, the ground floor was flooded because of the overflow of a nearby river. In addition, landslides affected part of the land, but did not reach the main building, according to the Brazilian Institute of Museums (Ibram), responsible for the space. Some of the servers were stranded and had to spend the night on the upper floor of the place.
The palace is in a complex that also includes a chalet, the Palacete Raul de Carvalho and the Casa das Guardas, headquarters of Iphan’s office in the mountain region, among other buildings. The palace was the home of the Barão do Rio Negro, summer residence of presidents of the Republic, seat of the Rio de Janeiro government and the Infantry Brigade.
With the work designed by the Italian engineer Antonio Jannuzzi, the palace has an eclectic style and was delivered at the end of the 19th century. In 1896, it was purchased by the ruler of Rio, Joaquim Maurício de Abreu, to be the seat of the state government, a function he performed until 1903, still according to Ibram.
Subsequently, it became the summer residence of the presidency of the Republic, where heads of state from different historical periods stayed, such as Rodrigues Alves, Nilo Peçanha, Getúlio Vargas, Juscelino Kubitschek, João Goulart, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
In a note, the Petrópolis City Hall points out that “it is still doing this survey” on the impact on historic properties. “Civil Defense teams have counted 553 occurrences since last Tuesday, of which 436 are due to landslides, 29 floods and 88 risk assessments.”
Images taken by residents with a drone show the grounds of the Crystal Palace covered in mud. Built with a structure developed in France and commissioned by Conde D’Eu, Princess Isabel’s husband, it was inaugurated in 1884. Today, it belongs to the City Hall and has been closed for over two years, awaiting the completion of the restoration.
The Imperial Museum announced that the main building was not affected by the rain and that the collection remains preserved, during which visitors and employees had to shelter in place until the following morning. According to the institution, two buildings in the complex (the cafeteria, in which the windows were broken, and the staff changing room) are “compromised” because of a landslide on annexed land. “Both were interdicted for security measures.”
In addition, the museum reported that the funds of the Pavilhão das Viaturas were affected, but that “there was no damage”. Visitation to the site remains suspended indefinitely. “The Civil Defense was called in to assess all the structures and buildings in the complex.”
It is headquartered in the former Imperial Palace, built by order of D. Pedro II, in 1945, whose work took 10 years. With neoclassical style, it was one of the emperor’s favorite residences.
On social media, the Casa do Colono Museum reported no damage. “The collection is preserved and the servers are safe”, he pointed out. The space is closed for visitation indefinitely. “Unfortunately, streets near the Casa do Colono Museum are compromised as a result of flooding and landslides in the Castelânea neighborhood.”
In addition to the cathedral, Theatro D. Pedro was also undergoing restoration work, with delivery expected in the first quarter of 2022. The property has eclectic architecture, with art-deco influences and was inaugurated in 1933.
In a note, Fiocruz reported that the Itaboraí Palace (from 1892, which houses the foundation’s activities) did not suffer damage to the “structures that make up the historical heritage”. “However, due to the difficulty of urban mobility and in response to requests from the Municipality and Defense”, he highlighted.
‘Imperial City’ maintained prestige in the republic
The historic center of Petrópolis is one of the eight “urban complexes” listed by Iphan in Rio de Janeiro. The recognition took place first on the axis of Avenida Köeler (which until today concentrates the most preserved heritage and is located near the bed of the Quitandinha River), in 1964, and, in the 1980s, it was extended to other buildings.
According to Iphan, the complex brings together properties from the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, with varied styles, such as late neoclassical, romantic (chalets) and eclectic. The listing includes Avenida Sete de Setembro, Tiradentes and Ipiranga, Rua São Pedro de Alcântara and Rua Raul de Leoni, Praça Visconde de Mauá, the Cathedral of São Pedro de Alcântara and several houses.
Among the properties listed by IPHAN, the São Pedro de Alcântara Cathedral, the Santos Dumont House, the Ferreira da Cunha Museum of Arms collection), the houses of Father Correia (Fazenda da Posse), the Samambaia Farm, of the Santo Antônio Farm, the altarpiece and image of Our Lady of Divine Love in the Igreja Matriz de Correias.
Determined by an imperial decree signed by D. Pedro II in 1843, the foundation of Petrópolis took place a few decades after D. Pedro I passed through the region during a trip, after which he bought land in the surroundings. The determination provided for the construction of the future Imperial Palace, the urbanization of what would become the Vila Imperial (historic center) and the work of the cathedral and a cemetery.
The city maintained its prestige even after the Proclamation of the Republic, being. For over 100 years, it has been the residence of aristocrats and nationally prominent figures, such as the artist and first lady of the Country Nair de Teffé and the jurist Rui Barbosa.
In addition to the listed properties, the municipality has at least seven historic archaeological sites registered with IPHAN: Paulo Hungria Machado Historic Site, Fazenda Branca I and II, Sítio do Engenho, Sítio do Vané and Pantanal I and I. such as crockery, ovens and building structures.
In January, the intense rains that hit Minas Gerais caused the collapse of two historic mansions in Ouro Preto, part of the complex considered world heritage by Unesco. Images sculpted by Aleijadinho were also affected in one of the six chapels of the Bom Jesus de Matozinhos Sanctuary, in Congonhas.
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