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  • Curitiba, Brazil

    Curitiba Info and Miniguide

    Curitiba is one of the most prosperous and organized cities in all of Brazil, a world-wide example of urbanism solutions, education and environmental protection. This Brazilian metropolis, in southern Brazil, was nominated as the American Cultural Capital in 2003, an initiative of the Organization of the American States (OEA). Its two million people are a synthesis of several cultures of immigrants that arrived in the region during the 19th century and early 20th century. Curitiba is a city of eclectic culture and maintains strong influence from the European immigrants.

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    Overview of Curitiba

    Few cities manage to mix the attractions of big city life with natural beauty, all while sprinkling in heavy doses of history and culture. Yet somehow Curitiba manages to do just that. Curitiba is an attractive city with a large population of nearly two million. In the center of the city is a mini city, the Cidade Velha; where old buildings still stand in their original form and where they have stood for more than 314 years. The parks and wooded areas that dot every single corner of Curitiba act as natural refuges. This makes it perfect, not only for exploring the city’s fun attractions, but also for getting away to relax in spots surrounded by water, flowers, trees and mountains. Whatever your interest, you can lose yourself on your visit to Curitiba.

    Curitiba is something of a Brazilian paradox. Although it's the seventh largest city in the state, with nearly two million people and being a cutting-edge metropolis with one of the most innovative public transport systems in the world; something much more than big city life draws thousands of visitors each year. In fact, Curitiba is known as much for its wonderful parks and “woodsy” scenery as it is for its downtown festivals and citywide shopping. Right in the middle of the city is the “Cidade Velha” (old city), literally a city within a city, restored to its former state from 314 years ago.



    History of Curitiba

    Curitiba was founded in 1693 by the Portuguese, who called it Village of Our Lady of the Light in the pine forest. The name became Curtiba in 1721. Although waves of Europeans arrived starting in 1850, it wasn't until after 1950 that the city's population really started exploding.

    Getting Into Curitiba

    Because Curitiba is considered one of Brazil's major cities, it's no surprise that it is serviced by an international airport, Aeroporto Afonso Pena. Tens of thousands of visitors fly into the airport each year, not just to visit Curitiba, but to continue travel to Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia

    Museums in Curitiba

    Curitiba takes pride in its excellent museums and each is worth a visit.

    • Museu do Olho (Museum of the Eye). It offers many hands-on science exhibits that the whole family will enjoy.
    • Museu Paranaense. This is the city's main library of history and arts.
    • Oscar Niemeyer Museum. This is Latin America's largest museum and it is dedicated to the plastic arts.
    • Museu de Arte Sacra is focused on Christian art, as well as art from other religious faiths.
    • Museu do Expedicionario. People interested in World War II history will want to stop and explore this museum. It also examines the history of Brazil's part in the war.
    • Museu da Imagem e do Som (Museum of Image and Sound). It offers a fascinating exploration of the world of cinema and photography.


    Japan Square

    Japan Square is a part of Curitiba that almost seems like a visit to old world Japan. The square serves as a tribute to Brazil's Japanese immigrants who dedicated themselves to farming in the area. Especially noteworthy are the Culture House, Tea House and Japanese Portal.

    Wire Opera House

    The Opera House is considered one of the great cultural symbols of Curitiba. The building itself is magnificent, with its transparent ceiling and tubular structure. It hosts all kinds of shows, including large passion plays, dramas, singing events and more. There is seating for 10,000 and room for another 40,000 to stand.

    Memorial Tu-Su

    This memorial opened in 1980, pays tribute to Brazil's Polish immigrants. Covering more than 46,000 meters, it was once the Estearina Candle Factory. Currently seven log houses serve as a memorial to the battle and faith of the Polish immigrants. You will find interesting exhibits such as the old cart, an old sour cabbage pipe and the beautiful image of their patron saint.

    Fountains

    Several amazing fountains are regular tourist attractions in Curitiba. The three main ones are:

    • Memory Fountain is located on Garibaldi Square. It features a bronze statue of a horse head, meant to pay tribute to the city's original immigrant colonists, who with horse-drawn carts, came from small farms on the outskirts of the city to sell their crops at the city center.
    • Jerusalem Fountain is located on Sete de Setembro Ave. As indicated by the name, the fountain was created as a monument to Jerusalem's 3,000-year history. It's built of concrete and masonry and rises 14.5 meters. Adorning the top are three brass angels, weighing approximately 600 kilograms each. These angels are meant to signify Jerusalem's three great religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
    • Maria Lata D'Água Fountain is located on Generoso Marques Square. It is structured in concrete and covers 36 square meters. The water is 60 centimeters deep. The main highlight of the fountain is an authentic reproduction of “Agua pro Morro”, a famous sculpture made in the 1940s by Erbo Stenzel.


    24 Horas Street

    This street, located between Visconde do Rio Branco and Visconde de Nacar, is a street that never sleeps. At 120 meters long, it hosts 34 shops that are always open and feature everything from sandwiches to flowers to books to dairy products. There's also a shop with 24/7 Internet access. You will also find the ruins of the Sao Francisco de Paula Church: a chapel, which began construction in 1811 but was never completed.

    Curitiba's Climate

    Curitiba's climate is said to be subtropical highland, by the Koppen classification. It's a humid city that has damp and mild winters with temperatures averaging about 13°C (55°F) during the coldest months. In the summer, it can get as high as 30°C (86°F), although the average summertime temperature is 18°C (64°F). Curitiba is the coldest of Brazil's 26 state capitals, although heat waves are not uncommon in either summer or winter.



    Getting Around Curitiba

    Getting around the city is an adventure in itself. The city has countless one-way streets, which result in frequent traffic jams. Plus, the downtown parking is quite limited. This makes the idea of renting a car for your vacation a difficult endeavor. The bus system in Curitiba is unlike any other city. The bus rides are absolutely luxurious, plus there are different buses used for different functions; some for workplaces, some for residences and some for tourist destinations. The buses make it easy to visit anything you want to see in the city.



    Shopping in Curitiba

    Curitiba has a fascinating mix of modern shopping malls and old world style street markets. For instance, one popular open market is Feira do Largo da Ordem, which is open on Sunday mornings. Here, you'll find paintings, sculptures, local food items, old car exhibits and much more. At the Spain Square there is also Feira da praca da Espanha (Spanish Square Fair) where you get to buy various antiquities. Meanwhile, there are six large malls in the city; Mueller, Estação, Curitiba Mall, Crystal Shopping Center, Park Barigui and Shopping Palladium (opened in 2008). There are also street boutiques offering well-known brands. For instance, Maison Capoani, a boutique on Comendador Araujo Street, is quite popular.

    Dining in Curitiba

    Curitiba's finer restaurants are mostly located in the central area of the city. This means they're mostly convenient to the bus terminals and metro stops. Visitors should be sure to try the churrascaria restaurants that offer ‘all you can eat’ buffets, featuring meals that usually include beef dishes. An especially popular local food is barreado, cooked meat that’s prepared and served with cassava flour and banana.

    Some restaurants to check out:

    • Estrela da Terra- This older colonial house opens for lunch every day. They offer all you can eat or pay per meal.
    • Tempero de Minas- Located in downtown has a menu is almost entirely local Brazilian cuisine.
    • Velho Madalosso- It's a small Italian restaurant that serves excellent pasta and meat.
    • Famiglia Caliceti Bologna- They serve Italian food and the dishes tend to have spiciness unique to this restaurant.


    Parks and Woods: Curitiba's Specialty

    For all of its big city attractions, the thing that most travelers boast about most when returning from Curitiba are its wonderful parks and woods areas. Some of them are:

    • Curitiba Botanic Gardens are designed to resemble French gardens. It has a carpet of flowers that welcomes visitors to the entrance. Inside is a huge greenhouse that contains hundreds of botanic species that are native to the area. Outside the greenhouse are walking paths and a large water fountain.
    • The German Woods cover 38,000 square meters of dense forest land. Within the woods is a replica of an old wood church that's been there since 1933. Also inside is the John and Mary Path, which recounts Grimm's Fairy Tales, German Poetry Square, a children's library and a wooden observatory that offers a stunning view of the city.
    • The Italian Woods hosts typical Italian events such as the Wine Party, the Grape Party and the 4 Giorni in Italy. The woods also have structures for shows and folklore presentations.
    • Tingui Park is a large park dedicated to the Indians who once lived in the area. There's a large statue of the Tindiquera Chieftain, as well as a replica of an early orthodox church.
    • Tanguá Park is part of a large Barigui River preservation project. It covers 450,000 square meters and is great for boating, hiking and biking.
    • Portugal Wood pays tribute to the Portuguese-Brazilian ties. It features a track and a small brook. There is also a path of tiles that contain excerpts from famous Portuguese poets.

     

    Although Curitiba is one of Brazil's largest cities and the streets stay packed, it's still possible to forget how big the city is and how many people there are. Its many sites somehow manage to make you feel that in the center of all the chaos, you've escaped to a refuge that civilization forgot.

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