The Governor General’s Palace
Luanda [São Paulo de Luanda], Luanda, Angola
Acording to Isabel Martins, “it has been stated that the first constructions erected on site, i.e. the Rossio or Feira Square, a denomination given in the 17th century to the Palácio Square, date back to 1607-1611. It would be, in principle, and among others, a House for the Town Hall in 1621 major alterations were made to the building so as to give it the purpose that it still holds today [...]. Between 1624 and 1630 [...] the works for the Governor’s Palace were completed so that the governors would have a proper dwelling” (Martins, 2000, p. 206). And so started, commissioned by governor Fernão de Sousa, the construction of the Governor’s Palace which should have been the Town Hall.
It was a large 17th century mansion but successive restoration works changed its original features converting it into a neoclassical building with a projecting arcade edged by a triangular pediment in the style of the 1940s neo-traditional architecture. In 1761 the building was basically totally demolished, because it was considered unsuitable as a residence for governors. The new construction followed the architectural line characteristic of the Pombaline period, i. eg. a classical model. In form, it extended in two parallel blocks united by a central block with a front façade consisting of a row of bay windows, whereas the rear façade was dominated by an imposing Baroque staircase. It remained like this until the early 20th century, a period when significant changes were made in order to ennoble the façade, which required its enlargement, modernization and its connection with the adjoining buildings: the Episcopal Palace and Casa da Junta Real (House of the Royal Committee), amongst others. The Governors’ Palace is the result of restorations undertaken over three and a half centuries in a mixture of styles ranging from Pombaline to neoclassical. The classicized expression seen today, emphasized by the main volume with its pediment and rounded arches, was a result of work by the architect Fernando Batalha, probably in the 1940s-1950s.