Welcome to the Hub of the Portuguese Colonial Empire!

Evening refreshment in Rio by Jean Baptiste Debret

Evening refreshment in Rio by Jean Baptiste Debret

Rio de Janeiro was a dynamic mixture of different social classes, ethnicities and cultures. Its geographic position as a major trading port made it one of the most visited Atlantic coastal ports. Consequently, it was exposed to a myriad of different global perspectives which amalgamated to form Rio’s unique identity. Jewish people fleeing from the inquisition in Portugal arrived in Rio and contributed to its vivid cultural fabric.  Colonial Rio de Janeiro received the largest proportion of slave disembarkation in all of South East Brazil, resulting in great demographic shifts and population growth in the late colonial periodSlaves made possible Rio’s thriving plantation economy. As time went on, aspects of Portuguese and African culture intertwined to form integral aspects of Brazilian identity. This can be seen in the development of the Samba, a modern Brazilian dance form celebrated at Rio’s yearly carnival. There was an apparent dichotomy in Rio society between upper class European women and lower class slave, mestizo and indigenous women. Societal norms differed when it came to the treatment of women and rigid social classes clearly defined their behavior and dress.

Click the links to learn more about different aspects of life in colonial Rio de Janeiro!

 

Background and header image by Johaan Moritz Rugendas