Nestled between colonial mansions and flanked by centuries-old trees, the squares of São Luís are part of a possible itinerary where it is possible to use this space for relaxation and observation of the historical heritage and dynamics of the city’s Historic Center.

Deodoro Complex

It is a group made up of four squares located in the Historic Center of São Luís, in Maranhão. It contains Deodoro, Pantheon, Alameda Silva Maia and Alameda Gomes de Castro squares, considered the main squares in the city due to the large flow of vehicles, with several bus lines and a large number of passers-by.

Deodoro Square

Through a Municipal Law, on August 15, 1868, Largo do Quartel was renamed Praça da Independência. With the advent of the Republic, it was named Praça Deodoro, in honor of the first president of Brazil. Praça Deodoro corresponds to the quadrangle located in front of the current Praça do Pantheon, and is sometimes confused with Alamedas Silva Maia and Gomes de Castro. The square has accessibility items, arbors, lioz stone benches, lighting system and landscaping with the planting of native shrubs.

Pantheon Square

With the demolition of the Barracks, at the end of the 1930s (and its transfer to the João Paulo neighborhood, in 1941), the Benedito Leite Public Library was built, in 1950; and Praça do Pantheon gained its current name in a City Council session on March 29, 1954, at the suggestion of the Maranhão Historical and Geographic Institute (IHGM). Praça do Pantheon has as its limits: Avenida Silva Maia (to the north), Avenida Gomes de Castro (to the south), Travessa do Galpão, Biblioteca Benedito Leite, Sesc, Parque Urbano Santos and Liceu Maranhense (east) and the Deodoro Square (west). In Praça do Pantheon, there are tributes to great writers and intellectuals from Maranhão, with the first busts installed being those of Artur Azevedo (1954) and Raimundo Correia (1954). Over the years, other busts were inaugurated, or transferred from other places to the square.

Maria Aragão Square

The construction of the square and the memorial was a tribute from the people of São Luís to the communist doctor Maria Aragão, who entered the history of Maranhão politics with her example of dignity and courage in the fight for the democratization of the country. Her story originates from extreme poverty, but she soon sets out in search of overcoming hunger, prejudice (for being black and a woman at the beginning of the last century), aggression and pursuing her dream of helping humanity. Endowed with a great sense of leadership, she faced political oligarchies, during the military regime in the 1960s, and suffered persecution promoted by the dictatorship. The project offers the population – in addition to the Memorial, which houses a collection of photos and personal objects of the honoree – a space for popular and artistic events with a stage and dressing rooms. Architect Oscar Niemeyer was a personal friend of doctor Maria Aragão and carried out the project, which features structures with large overhangs and monumental curves, developed with double ribbed slabs, in which high-tech materials were used. The space also has snack bars, restrooms, auditorium and gardens.

Nauro Machado Square

It is a square located in the Historic Center of São Luís. It was built in 1982, called Praça da Praia Grande. In 2001, it gained its current name, in honor of the Maranhão poet Nauro Machado. The place is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city. It is one of the most important public spaces in the Historic Center, being the stage for cultural events such as Bumba Meu Boi performances, music festivals and street theater. Furthermore, it is a meeting point, due to the various bars and restaurants located nearby. In this square, the João do Vale Theater is also located, next to which is the well-known staircase of Praça Nauro Machado.

Benedito Leite Square

Praça Benedito Leite is located between Ruas de Nazaré, Palma and Beco da Sé, therefore one of the oldest places in São Luís. It was originally known as Largo Velho do Val, or Vale, and in its immediate vicinity there was the Retreat of Our Lady of the Annunciation and Remedies for young maidens, founded by the Jesuit priest Gabriel Malagrida. The square was named in honor of the Governor, on the anniversary of his death. After the death of Benedito Leite, during the government of Luís Domingues, a commission was formed in charge of erecting a statue in memory of the illustrious statesman. The statue was created in Paris by the French sculptor François Emile Decarchemont, having been inaugurated on the morning of February 28, 1912. Benedito Leite is represented without a hand in the statue, as he reportedly said “I would rather cut off my hand than sign the suppression of the school Normal or Model”, at a time of economic crisis and spending cuts. The phrase was written on a bronze plaque next to the statue. Since 2017, on Sundays, the square has hosted part of the activities of Feirinha São Luís, organized by the City Hall, bringing together agroecological products, exhibition and sale of crafts, plastic and literary arts, gastronomy and local cultural performances, such as Tambor de Crioula and Bumba Meu Boi, as well as shows by local artists.

Gonçalves Dias Square

It is one of the most beautiful postcards of São Luís. It is popularly called Largo dos Amores (because it is a meeting point for lovers) and Largo dos Remédios (because of the church), as described in the work O Mulato, by Aluísio Azevedo. The place has a column with a statue of the poet Gonçalves Dias in the square, opened in 1873. The square is developed on several planes, due to the natural slope of the land, being interconnected by several staircases, some flanked by masonry guardrails. The statue of Gonçalves Dias is located in the center of the Square. To the right of the square, there is a circular bandstand, one of the few places protected from strong sunlight and the scarcity of shade trees, as the square is dominated by the presence of palm trees, sung in the well-known poem Canção do Exílio: “My land has palm trees” . Situated in an elevated location, it provides a panoramic view of the city, with Avenida Beira-Mar and the Anil River. The Igreja dos Remédios and Palácio Cristo Rei, which houses the memorial of the Federal University of Maranhão, are located in front of the square Below the square, accessible via stairs, are Maria Aragão Square and the Maria Aragão Memorial.

João Lisboa Square or Largo do Carmo

It is one of the oldest public places in the city of São Luís do Maranhão. The name Largo do Carmo is related to the Convent and the Church of Carmo, but it was named Praça João Lisboa in honor of the journalist and writer João Francisco Lisboa, in 1901. In 1918, a large bronze monument with a pedestal was inaugurated. marble, made by the French sculptor Jean Magrou, in honor of João Lisboa. It contains the ashes of the illustrious patron of chair number 11 of the Academia Maranhense de Letras. The square is linked to important historical facts such as the battle between the Dutch and Portuguese, which took place in 1643, the location of the city’s first fair or market, the first public shelter and the pillory destroyed after the Proclamation of the Republic. It also hosted several historical political and social movements in the city.

Pedro II Square

It is a public place that houses the Palácio de La Ravardière (home of the City Hall), Palácio dos Leões (headquarters of the Government of Maranhão), Palácio da Justiça (headquarters of the Court of Justice), the Church of the Sé, the Museum of Sacred Art and many others secular buildings of great historical importance that attract visitors. The square is located in the place chosen for rest by the French, in 1612, when they founded the city and built Fort São Luís. On December 2, 1925, it was named Praça Pedro II, in honor of the emperor’s centenary. At the beginning of the 1950s, the sculpture Mãe D’Água, by the Maranhão sculptor Newton Sá, was installed. The sculpture was awarded the silver medal at the National Salon of Fine Arts, in 1940 Between 2005 and 2018, the sculpture was located at the Historical and Artistic Museum. During the Christmas period, the square and buildings are decorated and specially lit, becoming a great attraction for residents and tourists.

Alegria Square

This square was once known as Largo da Forca Velha, as a gallows was once erected in the center of the square where the condemned were executed. Inspired by the circumstance that the poor condemned people, seen from afar, seemed to jump with joy, as soon as they were released into space with the rope around their necks, in 1849, it came to be called Praça da Alegria to try to erase the stigma of the past. Today it is a flower sales center and a beautiful spot to spend the afternoons sitting on its benches to read a book or even stroll under its leafy trees.

Antônio Lobo Square

Due to the construction of the Church and Convent of Santo Antônio (1624), this space was called Largo de Santo Antônio. In 1917, through the Resolution of the City Council of April 10 of this year, it was renamed Praça Antônio Lobo, a tribute to Antônio Francisco Leal Lobo, a great writer from Maranhão. There we also find the Chapels of the Brotherhood of Bom Jesus dos Navegantes and Bom Jesus da Coluna, which carry out traditional Lenten processions in São Luís and the Escola Modelo.

Odorico Mendes Square

It is located between the streets of Remédio and Hortas. In 1905, the bust of Odorico Mendes was inaugurated, placed in front of Rua dos Remédios, sitting on a stylized pedestal, under which rest the bones of the Translator of Homer and Virgílio, in faithful concise Portuguese verse, transferred from London, from the cemetery of Kensal-Green, in 1913. Recently the square was contemplated with the replacement of the cemented floor, restoration of benches, replacement of trash cans and landscaping.

Misericórdia Square

This square was originally named Praça Afonso Saulnier de Pierrelevée, in direct homage to the first surgeon in Maranhão and one of the first in the Northeast Region of Brazil to implant a prosthesis in a lower limb (leg), in a slave he owned. The square is located between Santa Rita and Norte streets. It is currently called Praça da Misericórdia, due to its proximity to the Santa Casa de Misericórdia hospital.

Comércio Square

A square with many stories. According to researchers, in 1868, traders from Praia Grande turned the square into a scene of great confusion. Many people were arrested on suspicion of using counterfeit banknotes in commerce. The square is the gateway to the Historic Center of São Luís for those arriving by sea or land. It also received several names such as Fran Paxeco and Praia Grande.

Valdelino Cécio Square

This square is named in honor of the lawyer, poet, writer and researcher of Maranhão Popular Culture. It is also known as Praça da Pacotilha, since in its place there was a mansion that was demolished to make way for the square, and the famous newspaper ‘A Pacotilha’ operated in the demolished property in the mid-19th century. It is located on Rua do Giz, on the corner of Beco da Pacotiha and provides visitors with a beautiful view of the Praia Grande neighborhood. The space is used to hold cultural events such as capoeira circles, Tambor de creola, performances and shows by popular culture groups.

Saudade Square

Located between Rua do Norte and Rua do Passeio, it was formerly called Praça do Campo Santo. It was later called Praça do Gavião and Praça do Cemitério, given its proximity to the traditional Cemitério do Gavião. At the beginning of the 1930s, its name was changed to Praça da Saudade. Located in the festive and cultural Madre Deus neighborhood, this square is characterized by being one of the most important places for the gathering and presentation of June and carnival groups, as well as an important gathering space for the region’s residents.

Faustina Square

Located on Rua do Giz in the Historic Center, this square is also known as Praça do Tambor de Crioula, due to the use of this space by cultural groups that are one of the most traditional in Maranhão. Opened in 1986, the square houses a chapel dedicated to Saint Benedict, considered the protector of black people in the Catholic Church.