Monumento à Independência [Monument to Independence]

The construction of a narrative

Texto: Giovanna Fluminhan. Modelagem 3D: Gabriel Paraizo Santos. Roberta Kimberly Calandrine Azevedo dos Santos. Rodrigo Simões Ferraz do Amaral. Rogério Alves Rosa Junior. Victor Rosa Gouveia. Pós-Produção: Luís Felipe Abbud, João Generoso Gonzales.

The proclamation of Dom Pedro I on the banks of the Ipiranga River had no immediate repercussions across the country. Contrary to what one might imagine, the newspapers of the Court of Rio de Janeiro did not welcome the ‘cry of independence,’ nor did Pedro I mention the episode in his letter to the people of São Paulo at the time. In 1876, the São Paulo periodical O Polichinello, of which Luiz Gama was editor, said that ‘The 7th of September is the darkest page that can be written in the book of a national history; it is the eternal condemnation of an entire people because it consented that a throne be set in the free and democratic bosom of America […].’ Thus, the date had to be carved into the nation’s history, in the midst of a broad social and political process that took place throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In Rio de Janeiro, the equestrian statue of D. Pedro I was installed in Praça da Constituição, in 1962, and the sculpture in honor of José Bonifácio, the patriarch of independence, in Largo do São Francisco, in 1872. Fifty years later, the fact that there was still no monument on São Paulo soil did not sit well with some, as noted in the speech by councilor José Homem Guedes Portilho at a city council session in 1875: ‘I am careful not to have anyone in São Paulo who does not look with displeasure at the glorious hill where the immortal cry that brought independence to Brazil took place, still bare of a simple landmark […]’

The desire to register the date of the ‘nation’s foundation’ materialized in the landmark of the anniversary of independence in 1885, with the creation of the monument-building by Tommaso Gaudenzio Bezzi: the Museu Paulista or Museu do Ipiranga. In addition to its symbolic and celebratory significance, it was also an urban proposal. The creation of streets and avenues, as well as the delimitation of land destined for the monument and the square, influenced the occupation and subdivision of important areas in Ipiranga, which is one of the entrances to São Paulo and access to the port in Santos. The building slowly became an important landmark in the city, a place for going on strolls and an area that set the stage for many festivities. In October 1912, Law No. 1324 authorized the construction of a monument meant to reinforce the memory of Independence, also in Ipiranga.

The contest for who would design the monument of the Centenary of Independence was only opened in 1917. About 20 projects were submitted and the unanimous winner was sculptor Ettore Ximenes. According to Affonso Taunay – secretary of the judging committee and director of the Museu Paulista from 1917 – this project was the most balanced. According to Taunay, a large part of the competitors did not take into account the need to incorporate elements capable of evoking facts and people in history; often portraying it in an alienated way. His opinion, stated in the minutes of the contest’s judging committee, said: ‘The sculptor’s great technique is combined with the competence of the first-rate architect who joined him. Its Brazilian note is the only intense one, although it still seems very insufficient to me.’ Thus, the jury made it clear that Ximenes’ project should not be carried out as it had been conceived. The allegorical figures that decorated the sides of the monument were considered inopportune, for example, and were replaced by scenes in bas-relief that depicted episodes of the struggle for independence that had been forgotten.

The Ipiranga Monument has Dom Pedro I as its main character, in addition to 30 figures who influenced Brazil’s independence. Among them were José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva, the patriarch of independence; Hypólito José da Costa, the journalist of the independence; Joaquim Gonçalves Ledo, head of the Independence Movement in Rio de Janeiro; and Diogo Antônio Feijó, regent during the second empire. Tiradentes, the martyr of the Inconfidência Mineira, is in a scene with seven three-meter-high figures, and the Pernambuco revolutionaries led by Domingos José Martins, in another. With a total area of 1600m², the reinforced concrete reaches a height of 12 meters, extending 9 meters below ground level. Gray granite was brought from Italy as well as part of the cast bronze pieces. The rest was made in Vila Prudente, São Paulo, in a foundry set up by Ximenes. The work was inaugurated unfinished on September 7, 1922, and ended up costing twice its budget, only being completed in 1926, the year of its sculptor’s death.

To further reinforce the significance of the site, the construction of a crypt inside the monument was planned, which would function as the Imperial Chapel, in 1953, where the bodies of Dom Pedro I and his two wives lay. The military and religious character of the monument was, over time, losing notoriety to the scale of the city of São Paulo, even more so after the closing of the Museu Paulista, in 2013, for restoration.


  1. Ana Cláudia Fonseca Brefe (2003). História nacional em São Paulo: o Museu Paulista em 1922. Anais do Museu Paulista, (011), 79-104.
  2. Janaína Cordeiro (2007). Lembrar o passado e festejar o presente. As comemorações do Sesquicentenário da Independência entre consenso e consentimento (1972). Anais do XIII Encontro de História.
  3. Giovanna Fluminhan. Lugares de memória em São Paulo: o Monumento à Independência no Ipiranga. Relatório Final de Iniciação Científica. Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade de São Paulo. São Paulo, 2014.
  4. Miyoko Makino. Ornamentação do Museu Paulista para o Primeiro Centenário: construção de identidade nacional na década de 1920. Universidad de São Paulo, Museu Paulista, 2003.
  5. Cecília Helena de Salles Oliveira (1995). O espetáculo do Ipiranga: reflexões preliminares sobre o imaginário da Independência. Anais do Museu Paulista: História e Cultura Material, 3(1), 195-208.

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