A Day In Curitiba

At an elevation of 930 metres (3,050 ft) Curitiba has cooler climate than most of the rest of Brazil and provided us with a nice reprieve from the heat. We travelled to Curitiba to visit the nearby colonial city of Morretes, but a landslide covered the highway and we couldn’t go. This left us more time to explore Curitiba and its collection of old and new architecture.

Historical Centre

The city began in the 1700s as a mining town, and then became a hub for cattle and forestry industries. Today, Curitiba’s downtown has a mix of 18th and 19th century buildings intermingled with more modern construction. It has been deemed to be one of the safest cities in Brazil making it a nice city to walk between sites in the city’s downtown.

Black and white tiled walkways can be found throughout downtown and travel between some of the city’s many squares. Praça Tiradentes is the main square in the city and is home to Catedral Basílica Menor de Nossa Senhora da Luz. The busy streets and modern buildings that surround the square didn’t make it feel like we were in Curitiba’s Old Town yet. Only a few blocks away we found what we were looking for at Praça Generoso Marques. It is a lovely square with colourfully painted heritage buildings around its edges and the old city hall, called Paco da Liberdade, as the main feature.

Immigrants from Italy, Poland, Germany and Ukraine settled in Curitiba in the mid 1800s. Some of that influence can be seen in the names of streets and squares around downtown. A few blocks away from the cathedral we found Praça Garibaldi. The square and its main building were named after an Italian immigrant who helped to fight for Brazil’s independence.

Garibaldi square is home to a few other restored heritage buildings including the pretty, blue Igreja do Rosário. The original church was built by slaves in the 1700s but had to be rebuilt in the 1940s after the original one was found to be structurally unsafe. Our favourite detail on the church are the original blue azulejos tiles that decorate the entrance.

A little further away, the tiled walkway leads to Largo da Ordem. This older square has simple but colourful, single story buildings and the oldest church in Curitiba, Igreja da Ordem. In the pictures of these two churches are the Dr. Seuss-looking trees called Paraná Pines. We saw them all over the city as they are native to the state of Paraná and we also saw them in Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo.

Ópera De Arame  (Wire Opera House)

In addition to a historic downtown, there are a few notable modern buildings in Curitiba, one of those is the theatre. We had visited the historical theatres in Manaus, Belém and São Paulo. The one in Curitiba is completely different from those grand buildings. Instead, it is a modern building whose name, Wire Opera House, gives you a hint about its design. Built in 1992, the 3-story metal, domed-shaped building is very open concept having very few true walls. Colourful fabric banners hang from wire pillars in the auditorium and flap in the wind. It’s an interesting, modern building, but we prefer the historical theatres.

The setting for the opera house is quite contradictory too. The metal beams of the building contrast to its natural setting beside a tall cliff with a waterfall flowing into a duck pond.

Jardim Botânico (Botanical Gardens)

On the other side of the city is a similar, modern building. From the entrance we looked upon rows of hedges that border a long, flower garden and directs your eyes to the wire and glass greenhouse in the middle of Jardim Botânico.

We had seen pictures of the wire greenhouse in promotional material for the city and expected it to be large. Instead, the greenhouse is quite small but showcases a few flowers, plants trees that are typical in the area.

It was free on the day we went (Wednesday) and we were glad we didn’t have to pay admission, because there’s not much to see.

We were in Curitiba during the FIFA World Cup. Brazilians are well known for being huge football (soccer) fans and they proved their love of the sport to us. One day during a Brazil match we walked up and down the streets in Curitiba trying to find a restaurant that was open for dinner, but they were all closed. Even all of the groceries and corner stores were closed. Through their windows we could see the staff huddled around small tvs, intensely watching the game. Even in Canada, a hockey loving country, businesses would never close during big games like the Stanley Cup playoffs or Olympic hockey finals. I guess we’re not as good fans as the Brazilians.

How to get to Curitiba

As the capital of the state of Paraná, Curitiba is relatively easy to access by plane, car or bus. It’s a 6 hour drive from São Paulo; 4 hours to Florianópolis and 8 hours to Iguaçu Falls.

Where to stay in Curitiba

The historic downtown is very safe and has many options for hotels and restaurants.

Coming Next – Visiting Breathtaking Iguaçu Falls

For pictures from other blogs go to Gallery at monkeystale.ca

To read about more of our adventures go to Destinations.

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