Roots, Vol. I: Lagoa da Pampulha

**Tourism Alert!**

This is Lagoa da Pampulha or Lake Pampulha located in Pampulha, Belo Horizonte (BH), Brazil. The lake was originally created as a source of water for residents of BH but quickly became polluted. Lake Pampulha continues to be a top tourist destination of BH as many of the cultural landmarks are located around or close to the lake. Some of these landmarks include but are not limited to FUMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais), the soccer stadium, Mineirão, and of course, the church of St. Francis of Assisi (designed by Oscar Niemeyer) and the Museum of Modern Art. Oscar Niemeyer was recruited for this project by the government to design a series of buildings around Lake Pampulha in 1941. 


St. Francis of Assisi, also known as the church of Pampulha, is the first listed modern architectural monument in Brazil and consists of four undulating concrete parabolas with outdoor mosaics. The exterior walls are covered in pastel ceramic tiles in shades of light blue and white, forming abstract designs. 


The church was considered highly controversial from the beginning. Despite being ordered by the government to create it and then finishing it in 1943, the church was not consecrated until 1959. There were many reasons for backlash at the time, religious authorities opposed both its unorthodox architectural and artistic forms, particularly the mural behind the altar of St. Francis with a dog depicting a wolf which they believed to be unfit for religious purposes. St. Francis, however, was and still is associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, which directly correlates with the use of an animal in the mosaic patterns. 


Another official tried to have it condemned and demolished, and when that failed, he purposely filled the church with altars and monuments that did not fit the style of the church. Finally, in 1959, the church was finally looked upon as a beautiful homage to God and a great artistic masterpiece. 


The curves, mosaic patterns, bold and unconventional designs would later become what Oscar Niemeyer is so famous for today. 


The little church of Pampulha is one of the well-known “postcard” pictures of Belo Horizonte and a staple to the neighborhood surrounding the lake. Our co-founder, Ingrid Miranda, carries a tattoo symbolizing the church she grew up in as a memory of her hometown. Swipe to check it out!

 

St. Francis Church

 (Photo Cred: Google Images & Ingrid Miranda)

Leave a comment