History of Fonte do Ribeirão in São Luís do Maranhão

Fonte do Ribeirão
Fonte do Ribeirão

The Ribeirão Fountain or Fonte do Ribeirão is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist attractions in São Luís.

Located between Rua do Ribeirão and Rua dos Afogados, the affective symbol of the city was handed over to the population after a long restoration carried out by the City Hall.

The fountain lost its primary use, which was the water supply in the city, as occurred with several other fountains in the capital, and today, more than 200 years after its inauguration, it serves as a backdrop for tourists’ photographic clicks.

Built in 1796 during the government of Lieutenant Colonel D. Fernando Antônio de Noronha, who longed for better sanitation in the region and improved water for consumption, it is remembered in several stories told by the people of Ludovico.

História da Fonte do Ribeirão em São Luís do Maranhão

One of them refers to the underground galleries of approximately two metres wide by two metres high, which were once open to public visitation, but are currently closed.

It is said that these galleries were opened to move priests and friars between the city’s churches, so that they would not be seen by the population. Others link the Ribeirão Fountain to one of São Luís’ most famous legends, that of the Enchanted Serpent.

It is believed that the head of the sleeping monster would be there. Some claim to have seen the red eyes of the great serpent.

Old record of the Ribeirão Fountain in São Luís do Maranhão
Old record of the Ribeirão Fountain in São Luís do Maranhão

Architecture – Set in a vast courtyard lined with ashlar stones, the Ribeirão Fountain is protected by masonry walls. Its sky-blue façade at the bottom has a pediment decorated with pagan and Christian symbols, such as a dove of the Divine and a stone statue of Neptune at the top, the current one being a replica.

The original is in the possession of IPHAN to prevent vandalism. Below are three barred windows that give access to the aforementioned underground galleries.

There are also two ornate pilasters on the sides. Last but not least are the five famous fountain frowns in the shape of fish and gods.

The frowns are made of stone and have bronze toecaps, from which the water is channelled and taken to the pond and then drained by a stream that runs along the entire length of the courtyard to the River Anil.

Ribeirão Fountain
Where: Rua do Ribeirão, Centre

How to get there

Take the bus to Av. Beira-mar, get off in front of RFFSA. Go right, cross the road before the José Sarney Bridge where you will find Rua do Ribeirão. The fountain is at the end of the street.

Tourism and Travel Guide of São Luís do Maranhão

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