Hans Klussmann Square (Praça Hans Klussmann), Rio de Janeiro

A sculpture of an indigenous tribal chief in Hans Klussmann Square

photography by: Omri Westmark

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When in 1930, German merchant Hans Klussmann donated a speck of land to the residents of Tijuca Neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, he couldn’t imagine that a couple of decades later, his former plot would evolve into a mesmerizing hodgepodge of sculptures. An Elephant, zebra, giant whale and even a replica of Egyptian pyramid are only some of the figures which greet visitors across the tiny Hans Klussmann Square and the nearby river.

Following a business trip to Brazil in 1918, Hans Klussmann, a trader from Germany, decided to purchase a tract of land in Rio’s Tijuca district. In 1930, Klussmann, who by that time lived in the then Brazilian capital, divided the entire area into smaller lots which he then began to sell through advertisements in local newspapers.


One parcel, though, was relinquished by Klussmann in favor of the neighborhood’s local residents. Located at the end of Rua Saboia Lima, in an affluent part of Tijuca, the aptly named Hans Klussmann square was left to its own devices for nearly forty years. That is, until Paulo de Tarso, a local mathematics professor as well as a self-proclaimed artist, created in the 1970’s a series of cheerful sculptures which were scattered all over the place.

Made of iron and concrete, the multiple statues depict a large array of animals alongside fictional figures from Brazilian folklore. Among the sculptures visitors can find here are of a horse, cat, panda, dinosaur, blue rhino, lion and a giraffe, just to name a few. Praça Hans Klussmann, as it is locally known, is ensconced adjacent to a small stream that flows into the Trapicheiros River. To much of the delight of anyone who visits the park, the narrow creek was embellished with its own medley of sculptures, most of which were appropriately shaped as aquatic animals, including a whale, seal and an octopus.


Over the years, the hidden sculpture park was neglected and fell into a state of disrepair. It was the recognition of the square as a historical heritage site by the municipal authorities that paved the way to its thorough face-lift in 2013, and again, in 2020. As of today, the garden is home to one of the country’s largest assemblages of outdoor Naïve art, a style of art that features the work of unprofessional artists who never attended any formal school or institution.