São Francisco Square in the town of São Cristovão is a historic plaza consisting of an open space surrounded by substantial early buildings. It is a well-preserved example of both the Spanish colonial and the Portuguese Franciscan architecture of northeastern Brazil.
São Francisco Square in the town of São Cristovão is a historic plaza consisting of an open space surrounded by substantial early buildings. The complex is a well-preserved example of both the Spanish colonial and the Portuguese Franciscan architecture of northeastern Brazil.
The square represents a rare example of the fusion of colonial Spanish and Portuguese city planning. São Francisco Square is ringed by religious, administrative, and residential structures; in time additional religious and residential structures were constructed just beyond the square proper.
Buildings such as São Francisco Church and convent, the Church and Santa Casa da Misericórdia, and the Provincial Palace. Associated houses of different historical periods surround the square, including relevant civil and religious institutional buildings.
This World Heritage ensemble, together with the surrounding 18th- and 19th- century houses, creates an urban landscape which reflects the history of the town since its origin. The Franciscan complex is an example of the typical architecture of the religious order developed in northeastern Brazil.
São Cristóvão was divided into two distinct zones: the lower city, or cidade baixa, where the port, factories and popular houses were located; upper city, or cidade alta, located on the top of a hill.
São Francisco Square developed as the focal point of the upper city, and came to house headquarters of colonial civil, military, and religious institutions. It also offered a strategic military vantage point to monitor the lower city, the land regions around São Cristóvão, and the Atlantic Ocean coast.
Established in accordance with the length and width required by Act IX of the Philippine Ordinances, this square incorporates the concept of a Plaza Mayor as employed in the colonial cities of Hispanic America, while at the same time inserted in the urban pattern of a Portuguese colonial town in a tropical landscape.