São Gonçalo – Brazil

São Gonçalo isn’t as famous as Rio de Janeiro, although they are apart from each other only a few kilometers. Rio has all the glam due to its beaches, sightseeings and historical background. No wonder it was Brazil’s capital during two centuries (1612-1815) and is one of the most visited cities in the world.

That is precisely why I chose not to discuss it. Everyone is talking about it, whether it is in terms of politics, typical touristic spots or violence. Since I am a fan of the unspoken and unseen, I decided on providing you with a modest outline of my hometown.

It is modest because, unlike Rio, it does not have the skyscrapers nor the numerous beaches and parks. However, they are quite alike when it comes to traffic jams and history.

São Gonçalo was founded in 1579, 79 years after Brazil was discovered (Indians had already done that, of course, when they lived here) by Portuguese explorers. It was named after its settler’s favorite saint. São means “Saint”.

In the following century the area corresponding to my city was divided by jesuítas priests into several farms. The influence of the Catholic religion is still very present, though there are many baptist temples around here as well. The Portuguese Catholic heritage is reflected in the most famous monument, Igreja Matriz (Mother Church),  located in busy downtown.

Another historical place is Fazenda Colubandê, one of the farms founded during the colonial period. Unfortunately, it needs urgent restoration, but due to bureaucracy and financial crisis, that has not taken place yet. Hope is not gone though, at least for my part. Meanwhile, we can appreciate the view.

Classic picture.
I know, not so classic. Those are local volunteers cleaning the farm’s backyard 2 years ago. They’re admirable people, wouldn’t you agree?

If you’re not so into history, but love music, São Gonçalo has the festival for you. Artists  from several parts of the country come here to participate in the Rap Festival. They aren’t celebrities, which makes them all the more special to me. In the festival’s Facebook page description it says its purpose is to present their work be it through short films,  books or rap battles. Following that encompassing overview, I must proudly add it’s a multiracial event.

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Lastly, another thing I love about my hometown: grafitti. It is probably my favorite thing about it. Many times the drawings on walls come along with poetic messages. This makes São Gonçalo’s traffic, violence and grey disappear altogether into creativity.

In 2015 there was a Graffiti Festival here which involved many artists, locals and from other states. This festival also promoted other kinds of art exhibits, like dancing and singing. It’s important to say that graffiti was born in poor US neighborhoods that had their roots in the so-called ghettos. Hip hop, skating and break were and are all part of this wonderful mixture. I’d like to make this clear so that we value more and more the culture of people who many times don’t get their say in society.

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Well, I hope you have enjoyed this trip as much as I did. I thank Mohamad for providing me with another opportunity to guest post here. I’m so happy to have put it out there some positive aspects of my hometown.

If you want to know more about me, don’t be shy and check my posts in Women & Minds.

Thank you!

25 thoughts on “São Gonçalo – Brazil”

  1. Renata, this is such a wonderful overview of your city. I love that you included the graffiti! I agree, a lot of emphasis is made on the typical tourist attractions when there is so much more to learn about an area. Thanks so much for posting this! <3

    • The graffiti are amazing. I hope I can find some more around here. It’s a big city, after all! Of course such a fuss involving the typical touristic attractions is good business, but it overshadows all the good in the rest.

      • I used to work at a mill site and I loved watching the rail cars come in with all of their graffiti. A lot of people have a lot of spare time and a lot of paint…all out there on the railroad tracks.

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