Ibero-American colonial architecture

Ibero-American colonial architecture . Since the year 1500 when Pedro Álvarez discovered Brazil , there had been no real process of colonization, taking the form of simple voyages of discovery and the foundation of commercial factories with little life. At first Portugal did not attach great importance to its new possession. An almost feudal system succeeded these isolated exceptions, the king gave areas of the new country to his vassals, with hereditary rights.


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  • 1 Foundation of captaincies
    • 1 The baroque
  • 2 Features
  • 3 Colonial art in North America.
    • 1 Colonial Architecture.
  • 4 Mix of styles: Eclecticism in El Salvador
    • 1 Colonial Architecture
  • 5 Source

Foundation of captaincies

The first captaincies were founded in this way, the captainship system supposed a mixed exploitation by the Crown and the individuals, it did not give much result, replacing it by governors who depended directly on the State. In Brazil, everything was left to private initiative. They did not have the commercial obstacles that drowned Spanish America.

Throughout the 17th century, the Portuguese colonization was concentrated in a narrow strip on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean . The peaceful penetration was carried out during the following century and that only in the part of Minas Gerais and Río Grande do Sul .

The populations of the coast gained rapid importance thanks to the cultivation of sugar cane ; Brazil became one of the main suppliers in Europe , and this translated into ostentatious constructions, typical of an opulent environment. Since the Indians refused to work for the Portuguese, it was necessary to import black slaves, a mestizo population was formed.


Expression of a complicated and brilliant art had to find fertile ground in those minds affected by appearance, by exuberance. In a tropical, lustful and colorful environment it had to end fatally in a furious baroque style. All the constructive enthusiasm was devoted to the architecture of religious buildings.

The Jesuit buildings represent the oldest in the architecture of Brazil, they are moderate, regular, cold, in the midst of that storm that characterizes art in that country.

For Europeans saturated with rebirth, Jesuit art supposes the expression and appearance of the Baroque , for Brazil it means an attenuated stage, almost pre-Baroque, which was interrupted in 1759 as a result of the expulsion of the Company.

From the beginning, a type of plant of Portuguese origin was used in the temples, quite different from that used in the rest of the continent: a single nave with or without side chapels , without a transept and dome (in general). The nave was covered with a wooden vault as well as the presbytery . Lack of dome is a Portuguese feature.

That simple scheme was gaining more independence: the side chapels were replaced by long corridors that led from the entrance (independent of the door of the temple itself) to the sacristy . This was placed behind the presbytery, transversely and given colossal dimensions. Another difference is that it has the chapels next to the presbytery, facing the faithful (seen in Italy). The facades remained quiet throughout the 17th century: simple stone chains or ornate pilasters, triangular façades, square towers finished in a pyramid covered in tiles.


Inside, it timidly announced the beginning of a baroque style that would later become insane. In the 18th century, ornamentation was mainly concentrated on wooden ceilings. The cities that have important monuments from the 17th century are: Olinda , Recife , Bahia and Rio de Janeiro .

In Olinda, the Convent of San Francisco because it has a very Italian solution in its cloister. It is a two-storey cloister, the lower gallery of which has semicircular arches on Tuscan columns, while the upper gallery is flat, also on smaller Tuscan columns and with an exaggerated base. A tile roof covers this gallery. The similarity with the cloisters of the Holy Spirit in Florence is evident.

In Recife, the building of greatest value is the temple and convent of San Francisco, whose cloister is very similar to that of Bahia. The facade of the church is posterior to the body of the temple and enters fully into the frenetic baroque of the 18th century.

But the most interesting thing about this city is having been the seat of the Dutch government of occupation and Mauricio Nassau wanted to make Recife a center of civilization. Called by the authorities of his country, Nassau left Brazil in 1644 ; ten years after the prince’s departure the Dutch had to capitulate.

In Bahia it was during the first two centuries of colonial life the most important city in Brazil and retained the rank of capital until 1763 . Mucos and important buildings of all kinds were erected there from an early date, the Cathedral occupies the first place, which was originally a Jesuit church .

Colonial art in North America.

The first colonizers brought with them their lifestyle, their personal vision of art, undoubtedly influenced by the centuries of artistic evolution in Europe and the desire to create a new world, for which the styles undoubtedly were based on transoceanic models in the first moments.


Colonial Architecture.

Without a doubt, what most evidences the development of art in the colonies is architecture, as a means of artistic expression. The evolution, the improvement of the constructions, which are still preserved today, is the best, most reliable data to understand the evolution of art in North America. We understand that the living conditions that the first settlers had to endure were extremely harsh and obviously affected the organization of space and construction practice.

Except for the southwest area, indigenous architecture was razed and, therefore, its influence was nil. In present-day Arizona and present-day New Mexico, the Spaniards who penetrated in the 16th century found indigenous people whom they baptized as a town. They were communities of farmers and ranchers who built villages of sun-dried clay in the middle of their watered fields.

The Indian technique consisted of arranging successive layers of clay to form the walls, and letting the sun dry before continuing the work; the roof of branches covered with a thick layer of the same clay, was supported by thick cross beams that protruded at each end. That style, somewhat modified by the Spanish, has survived until the middle of the 20th century.


Mix of styles: Eclecticism in El Salvador

Because it is a city in the process of development, it exhibits a variety of buildings that show a mosaic of materials, construction processes, architectural styles and various trends that can become … In the city, we can find homes with a mixture of Colonial Architecture and style Californian, given their characteristics, as well as American-type dwellings, since they are United States-style dwellings, are made of wood, and are assembled on site, European-type dwellings with wood and stone finishes, and those that dominate in mostly those of a rational type, where the rationality of the spaces is sought through their function.

We find diversity of architectural styles in the Churches of the city, from eclectic styles to the dominant Neo-Gothic style. I can not fail to mention the large shopping centers that are being built in the country, due to the concept of Globalization, these large commercial masses do not respond to an architecture in itself, they are rather a trend in colors, decoration materials, construction systems and consumer masses that are very fashionable today.

Colonial Architecture

It is here where you can see unprecedented architecture, churches built in colonial times, with their great buttresses, with their Solomonic columns and what can I say about the houses of the small towns of the country, built with adobe, with the lintels in the entrances of the houses, its corridors that lead to the facades of the houses, its central patios, all these characteristics give that colonial touch to the peoples of the country.

Even though the country is innovating in materials and construction systems, the traditional materials used here to build continue to be used by thousands of architects throughout the country. The material par excellence for the construction of walls is the concrete block, which we can find a diversity of styles and colors and companies that distribute them.


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