The main aim of this paper is to reflect on how the urbanistic instruments
contained in Municipal Law nº 16.290/97 and in Federal Law n° 10.257 of 2001 ? the Statute of the City -, when applied against a historical reality, can guarantee balance and formal harmony between the maintenance of the old and the introduction of the new. To do so, an urbanistic simulation was drawn up for the downtown district known as the Bairro do Recife, specifically for the group of buildings which surround Tiradentes Square. This has been the basis for identifying the limits and the possibilities of applying the instruments given in these two pieces of legislation. The Bairro do Recife is the place where the city was formed and one of its historical sites, while the surroundings of the square present typological diversity and a high degree of degradation.