Brazil // The South //

Colégio dos Jesuítas

Just beyond the market, Paranaguá’s most imposing building, the fortress-like Colégio dos Jesuítas, overlooks the waterfront. Construction of the college began in 1698, sixteen years after the Jesuits were invited by Paranaguá’s citizens to establish a school for their sons. Because it lacked a royal permit, however, the authorities promptly halted work on the college until 1738, when one was at last granted and building recommenced. In 1755 the college finally opened, only to close four years later with the Jesuits’ expulsion from Brazil. The building was then used as the headquarters of the local militia, then as a customs house, and today is home to the Museu de Arqueologia e Etnología. The stone-built college has three floors and is divided into 28 rooms and a yard where the chapel stood, until it was destroyed by a fire in 1896. None of the museum’s exhibits relate to the Jesuits, concentrating instead on prehistoric archeology, Indian culture and popular art. The displays of local artefacts are of greatest interest, and there are some fine examples of early agricultural implements and of the basketry, lace-making and fishing skills of the Tupi-Guaraní Indians, early settlers and caboclos.