Located in the Southern state of Paraná, Curitiba is famous for being the most “European” large city in Brazil. It’s quite cold in the winter by Brazilian standards and can get down to zero degrees some nights, this in combination with it’s grey winter days, numerous parks, museums, architectural monuments and Paraná Pine forests all add to this European atmosphere. The city sits at an altitude of 932 meters and is about 100km from the coast. It also has a fairly large downtown center, with a large pedestrian walking street and numerous squares and a population of about 1.8 million people.
Down town Curitiba
We decided to stop over in Curitiba on our way South to Florianópolis and check out the city. We arrived at night in the rain and found our accommodation fairly easily, despite the fact that we did not have a properly working GPS at the time. We stayed at a kind of Pousada/hotel called Irmandade Betânia. It’s a quite far from the center, but okay if you have a car. The internet is 10/10 high speed internet, which is essential to our work as online teachers and we were happy with that part. The building has the feel of some kind of a university hostel, with various little kitchens and laundries on each floor. The rooms are fair size, with a comfortable bed and clean bathroom, but the electric shower head wasn’t strong enough to heat the water properly for the 10C cold.
We visited the famous Botanical Garden with it’s iconic green house and ornamental hedges. The weird angles and different hues of green in the garden make it a great place to take some interesting artistic photos. We visited in June, early winter, but I imagine the best time to visit the garden in probably in late winter/early spring when I would imagine it is filled with blossoming flowers. After the Garden we continued to the center, parked in an expensive downtown garage and checked out the Rua das Flores (Flower road) and XV Novembro walking street area, apparently it was the first Major paved down town walking street in Brazil. There are also some interesting city squares and old churches around here and an overstocked rock shop with literally the T-shirt of any rock band that has ever existed.
The next day we visited the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, this building houses a modern art gallery and the building was designed by Oscar Niemeyer, a Brazilian architect who is famous for his modernist building designs and who also designed many famous building in the capital of Brasilia in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The museum was built in 2002 and has an interesting design based around an eye shaped tower with some twirly ramps around it and a pool of water below. The art inside the building was ok, with a few interesting pieces here and there, although I enjoyed the architecture of the building more than the art itself. The eye is particularly interesting when you go inside, with it’s foam textured ceiling, mirror walls and fluorescent lightening bolt.
After the museum, we had lunch at a bistro style food market across the street and then went to Tanaguá park. This park has some beautiful fountains, lots of Araucária (Paraná Pine) forests, a bistro building with 2 high look out points with fantastic views and a giant drop off to a lake below. There is also a cool looking tunnel, but we didn’t get to see it because it was being renovated. There is also a waterfall water feature that you can stand above and see the impressive drop. One notable thing about the city is that the traffic seems to flow realy smoothly, even in the afternoon downtown and I didn’t observe any of the typical traffic jams associated with most major cities.
On our last night the temperature got down to below zero and it was pretty cold, especially by Brazilian standards. Curitiba is an interesting city, if you are interested in seeing a different side of Brazil and it’s a great stop over on any trip further South.