Parish Church of Our Lady of the Conception
Viamão, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Like most churches built in Rio Grande do Sul in the 18th century, the original projects of which have not been found, there is no certainty as to the author of the project for the parish church of Viamão. According to some historians, it was designed by Brigadier José Custódio de Sá e Faria during the period when he governed the captaincy from 1764 to 1769 and when the administration was located in Viamão. The church has the appearance of a fortress, with two large bell towers aligned with the façade. Its construction probably began in 1766 and was completed in 1769. The design of the building as a whole conveys a sense of stylistic uniformity that impressed travellers in the 19th century, who alluded to it enthusiastically. Auguste de Saint-Hilaire said in 1820 that after São Paulo, he had not yet seen another church that rivalled it, with two such well-preserved towers that were extremely clean, light and decorated in good taste. In turn, Nicolau Dreys said in 1849 that its frontispiece was a remarkable work of religious architecture and that it could rival other churches in the vicinity and even those in the capital. The building has a harmonious composition in which the great vertical masses of the walls fit in with the outline of the roof, which in turn is enhanced by the red clay tiles. Inside, it has a series of five very high baroque altarpieces that contrast with the limewashed walls. The parish church of Viamão was recognised as Brazilian national heritage in 1938 and has already undergone various campaigns of restoration work.