In the beginning of the 20th century, São Paulo was going through a moment of intense transformation. At that time, with the expansion of industry, the city was a provincial town starting to evolve into an energetic metropolis. Immigrants arrived from every part of the world, influencing the development of this new society — a constant intermingling of the old and the new.
Count Francisco Matarazzo had recently arrived in Brazil from Italy and, among the many enterprises he built and is today recognised for, he conceived an institution that would attend to the needs of his community: a Società Italiana di Beneficenza, created right after the arrival of the first wave of Italian immigrants.
In August 14th, 1904, the Umberto I Hospital was inaugurated, as homage to Italy’s King Umberto I. Most of the buildings are designs projected by world-renowned Italian architect Giovanni Batista Bianchi (1885-1942). Up until its closure in 1993, it played a very important role in São Paulo: the hospital became a reference in healthcare and the birthplace of almost 500 thousand paulistanos.
In 1986, the complex was recognised for its historical qualities and several of its buildings were designated as historic landmarks. Beyond just an architectural landmark, the Matarazzo Hospital was also a benchmark in healthcare and a symbol of Italian culture in Brazil’s early 20th century.
Since the cessation of hospital activities in 1993, the Matarazzo site has remained tucked away, its qualities preserved — a rare gem in a dynamic and ever changing urban landscape. It patiently awaits the souls who will inhabit it and continue to build its history.