An imposing building, which draws attention for its beauty, size, ostentation and richness in details. Built to symbolize the power of coffee culture in Brazil in the early 20th century, the Official Coffee Exchange was opened in 1922, also as part of the celebrations of the Centennial of Brazil’s Independence.
Bolsa do Café is a building constructed in an eclectic style, that is, it gathers several architectural styles, and stands out for its grandeur: with about 6 thousand square meters of built area, it has more than 200 doors and windows, floors with Carrara marble (Italy), stained glass from the Czech Republic, dozens of statues, gigantic paintings and a 40 meter tower, where a huge Swiss clock is installed.
Bolsa do Café is the second most visited tourist attraction in Santos (second only to the Aquarium): it receives around 374 thousand people per year.At the height of the coffee cycle in Brazil, which practically moved the entire national economy, it was on the Coffee Exchange where the negotiations for the so-called Ouro Verde took place. After the crisis of 1929, the sector lost strength and gradually lost importance, as well as the boredom, which was disintegrating until it was closed at the end of the 1970s.
In 1981, listed by the Council for the Defense of Historical, Archaeological, Artistic and Tourist Heritage (Condephaat). It was reopened in 1998, after two years of a profound renovation that restored the original features of the building. The visitor will certainly be surprised by its facilities.
Right at the entrance, there is a portico with monumental columns with two grand statues: one representing Mercury (the god of Commerce) and the other Ceres (the goddess of Agriculture). Above the main access door of the building is a small stained glass with the symbol of the ‘United States of Brazil’, the name of the country at the time of the building’s inauguration and which remained until 1967. Also highlighted, is the Coat of Arms of Brazil, composed of a branch of coffee and a tobacco, the two most important cultures of the country in the Proclamation of the Republic (1889).
In the main lobby on the ground floor there is the Sala do Pregão (Trading Hall), where negotiations took place that fixed daily quotations for coffee bags. In a circular layout, there are 81 table chairs made of fine woods (imbuia and jacaranda), where, between one negotiation and another, the coffee tycoons played dice.
The arrangement of the furniture, in art noveau style, represents the hierarchy of the old bag: 11 main chairs for the president, in the center, and the secretaries, next, and the other 70 around, for the brokers. Producers and exporters attended the sessions on the mezzanine. The trading sessions were held until 1950.
On the floor of geometric designs, with marbles from Greece, Spain and Italy, the star of David stands out, an element of Masonic reference.
When looking up, the visitor will see a large stained glass window, one of the first achievements in the country with a Brazilian theme: ‘The epic of the bandeirantes’ also bears the signature of Benedicto Calixto. Made by Casa Conrado, a famous studio in the capital of São Paulo, it shows allegories and symbolic configurations to represent the wealth of three periods in history.
In the central scene ‘The vision of Anhanguera: the Mãe d’Ouro and the Mothers of Water’, highlighting the gold of the Colony Brazil. The coffee, sugar cane and cotton farming of the Empire is represented in the scene ‘A Lavoura e Abundância’, on the left, while trade, exports and the modernization of the Republic are evidenced in ‘The Industry and Trade’, on the right.
At the back of the trading room, there are three huge panels produced by the painter Benedicto Calixto, which show the urban and economic transformations of the city of Santos, from the foundation of the Vila in 1822, until 1922, when the building was inaugurated.
Left screen – Named ‘The Port of Santos in 1822’, it shows a small village with few streets and many churches, with a population concentration in the port region, which exports sugar. The canvas is flanked by images of birds of the Brazilian fauna and the coat of arms of Brasil Colonia and Brasil Reino, with phrases representing each period – ‘Labor and Order’ and ‘Lavoura e Comércio’, respectively.Central screen – Named ‘The Foundation of Vila de Santos – 1545’, it represents the moment of the public reading of the Charter for the Elevation of the village to the category of village. The painter gives a description of the social composition of the village and families, and highlights three constructions:the Church of the Brotherhood of Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia, still under construction; the Casa do Conselho, on the left, and the chapel of Santa Catarina, built on the hill, on the right.Right-Screen In ‘The Port of Santos in 1922, “Benedito Calixto portrays amesma central region, 100 years later, with the changes triggered by the coffee trade: new port structure, railway, urban development and architectural changes. Also flanked by images of fauna birds, the painting features the coat of arms of Brasil Império and Brasil República, with the positivist inspirational phrases ‘Arts and Industries’ and ‘Evolution and Progress’.
At the top of the 40 meter high tower (twice the height of the Bolsa do Café building), a gigantic English clock is installed, notable for its precision. At the base of the tower there are four statues, each 4.5 meters high, sculpted in light gray thin mass by the Belgian artist Andrien Henri Vital van Emelen, directed to a cardinal point each representing a type of worker: worker, farmer, merchant and navigator.
In addition to the rich past, the Bolsa do Café de Santos also hosts several cultural events (exhibitions, lectures, debates, courses), not only on the coffee segment, but with interesting subjects for the most varied audiences.
The big highlight of the entire Bolsa do Café is the Cafeteria do Museu, which serves the drink in various preparations and also foods that have coffee among the ingredients. The visitor can take packages of coffee (freshly ground powder or beans) from different sources, as well as accessories and souvenirs.Address: Rua Xv de Novembro, 95, Centro Histórico. Phone (13) 3213-1750.
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