Our visit to Curitiba was motivated by Thomas' wish of getting to know the considered 'model city' of Brazil or even 'ecologycal city'. These designations come from the recognized transport planning of the city, bringing to its dwellers the easy access to all city corners, and from the preservation of big green areas inside the city, what corresponds to about 52 m2 of green area per inhabitant. The biggest urban park of Brazil is placed in Curitiba, with about 8 millions square meters.
Firstly I will give a general view of the city as well as I will talk a bit about its history. To understand the development and the present state of a place, I consider that we always must glance at history and learn with it.
City History and the origin of its name
The metropolitan region of Curitiba is constituted by 25 municipalities and has a population of 2,4 millions inhabitants. The city of Curitiba has an area of 432 km2, about 1,3 millions inhabitants and is the capital of State of Paraná.
Curitiba was yet the araucarias city, or paranás pine (Brazilian pine). It was recovered by those trees and for decades they were an important economical source for the State. The Curitiba's name comes from this fact. There are two officialy accepted explanations for this name. One of them is that Curitiba comes from the guarani words coré (pine kernel) e etuba (much), which were used by the Tingüi Indians, who belonged to the Tupi, Jê and Guarani nations. The other explanation is that the name comes from the also guarani words Kurit (pine) e Yba (in much quantity).
The origin of Curitiba dates back to the gold-hunt times, when the gold-diggers, who came from the coast, climbed up the Serra do Mar (Sierra of the See) and arrived then in the plateau where the city is located. The first nucleus was established at the margins of Atuba River by Eleodoro Ébano Pereira, in the location called Vilinha, which was later transferred to where is placed the Praça Tiradentes (Tiradentes Square) nowadays. In that place would grow up the Village of Nossa Senhora da Luz dos Pinhais, which was officialy founded on March 29th, 1693 by the capitain-colonist Matheus Martins Leme. He promoted the first election for the Alderman Chamber and the following construction of the village, as demanded by the Portuguese Ordinations
The change in the name came in 1721 with the visiting of ouvidor (a sort of justice of the peace) Raphael Pires Pardinho, probably the first authority worried about the citys environment, determining many cares that should be taken by the population in relation to the nature. Trees cut in restricted areas, cleaning of Ribeiro River (nowadays Belém River) by the dwellers in order to avoid the flood in front of the mother church, authorization for the houses construction obligatoly covered with tiles only given by the Chamber and the expanding only of streets that already existed so that the village could have an uniform development were some of his actions.
Forgotten by Capitania de São Paulo rulers, Curitiba passed a period of extreme poverty. Prosperity only would come with the tropeirismo (system based on drivers of pack animals, muleteers), as from 1812. Being a strategic point in Viam�o road which led to S�o Paulo and Minas Gerais States, the muleteers passage provided commerce development for the village.
It occurred then an exodus from countryside to the village due to the farms renting to the invernadas (winter pasture for fattening cattle). Business related to cattle transportation propagated then. With development, Paraná Stated conquered its emancipation. Thus, in 1842 the village was promoted to the category of city and, on August 29th 1853, Curitiba was promoted to Paraná State Capital.
Capitania = designation of the first administrative divisions of Brazil
Immigration played an essential role to outline the present Curitiba profile. Immigrants contributed to the formation of populational, economic, social and cultural city structure. With their diverse habits and customs, those immigrants had a marked influence in city, making it a real cultural pothole.
Until 18th centure, city inhabitants were Indians, mameluco (cross-bred, son of an Indian and a white man), Portugueses and Spanish. With political emancipation of Paraná State (1853) and governmental incentive to colonization in the second half of 19th century, Curitiba was transformed by intense Europeans immigration.
In 1872 Germans presence in the region was already considerable. They were responsible for spreading the associativism concept, beginning the industrialization process in the region, commerce increment, German architeture influence in the region as well as their alimentary habits.
Polnish arrived in 1871 and founded the Tomás Coelho (Araucária), Muricy (São José dos Pinhais), Santa Cândida, Órleans, Lamenha, Pilarzinho and Abranches colonies. They acted basically in field work and commerce and form in Curitiba the biggest polnish colony in Brazil nowadays.
Italian came to Curitiba in 1872 and raised the Santa Felicidade (Saint Happiness) colony in 1878. Italians proceeding from northern Italy were in their majority workmen, artisans, specialized professionals and traders while the ones that proceed from southern Italy were farmers. They contributed with introduction of new agricultural implements. Italian immigrants as well as Polnish also sold in the city their vegetables production inside carts.
In 1895 came the Ukrainians, who settled down in Campo da Galícia and time after time expanded their possessions along the present Cândido Hartmann Avenue and through all Bigorrilho district. The Tingüi Park has a memorial celebrating the Ukrainian immigration centenary in the city.
Japaneses marked their presence in Curitiba as from 1915, with Mizumo Ryu's arrival. In 1924, they immigrated in a bigger number and settled down in the city and its surroundings - Uberaba, Campo Comprido, Santa Felicidade and Araucária.
Syrians and Lebaneses established in clothes, shoes, fabrics and haberdashery commerce. Due to their stores characteristics, they occupied the central area of the city. The first immigrants sold door-to-door the novelties to the farthest colonies travelling on donkey's back.
One of the most famous city park is Fanchette Rischbieter Botanical Gardens, especially because of its greenhouse in metalic structure and with a really bold and modern architecture. Inaugurated in 1991, its conception is inspired by French gardens. Located in 69.285 square meters area inside the city, the park has samples of vegetable species from all Brazil and some of them are sheltered in the greenhouse. There are tracks crossing the park, a perfect option for those people that like to take strolls having the nature as background. The park holds the Botanical Museum, which has auditorium, exhibitions hall, library, tennis-courts and a velodrome.
Other really famous park in the city is the Parque das Pedreiras (Quarries' Park) that has cultural area formed by Pedreira Paulo Leminski and by the famous Ópera de Arame (Wire's Opera), both being used as sceneries for spectacles. The Ópera de Arame was inaugurated in 1992 and consists of a iron tubular structure, covered with wire-netting alike Paris Opera. Opera's entrance bridge is an extra attraction for tourists. Adults, and especially children, enjoy the affliction feeling caused by stepping on the wire-netting once It's possible to see thru it lake which passes under the bridge. The 10-meter cascade completes the landscape.
Parque Tanguá (Tanguá Park) was a nice surprise for its landscape beauty when we visited it. As Parque das Pedreiras, Parque Tanguá is located in a former quarries complex. Inaugurated in 1996, the park has a buildings' complex composed of a beautiful belvedere, snack bar and parking-lot, which are located on the high part of the old quarry. The lower part has another parking-lot as well as an artificial tunnel which has a wooden passage that leads to a big platform in the middle of the lake. Who is travelling by car, I advise to stop in this parking-lot to see this part of the park, otherwise it will be a long walk. The cascade which falls in the lake is a beaty spectacle. When the day is sunny, it's possible to see a rainbow formed by the water fall. The park on the whole is really pleasant, with many entertainment possibilities such as anchorage, cycleway and cooper track.
Parque Tingüi (Tingüi Park), inaugurated in 1994, has also a upper class houses' condominium. The main attraction of this park is in fact the Memorial Ucraniano (Ukrainian Memorial). Its buldings were made with interlocked hardwood. Its inauguration happened on october 26th, 1995 due to the Ukrainian immigration centenary in Brazil. At park's entrance there is a statue of the Tingüi Indian tribe chief, the cacique Tindiqüera, who led the colonists to the place where should be raised the Nossa Senhora da Luz dos Pinhais Village, Curitiba today.
An obligatory stop for us had to be the Bosque Alemão (German Woods) once we had an original German visiting the city all in all. J Inaugurated in 1996, the main attraction in the park is the Oratório de Bach (Bach's Oratorical), a concert hall of which wooden building is a replica of the old Presbiterian church in Seminário district. Going down the wooden tower we direct ourselved to the woods' first attraction, the Casa de Contos (Fairy-tale House), a children's stories library. In the track that crosses the woods, that is, the Caminho dos Contos de Grimm (Grimm's tales way), there are tiled murals which depict in verses the João e Maria fairy-tale (Hänsel und Gretel). In the end of the track we come across a replica of a German house facade that was one day in the city. It's worth a visit!
Rua 24 Horas (24 Hours Street) was created in 1992 and is a street covered by a metalic structure in archs and glass roof. The stores located in this street never close. There is a big clock on its entrance representing exactly the fact of the street being opened the 24 hours of the day. The majority of the stores are bars and restaurants that are the curitibanos� happy-hour. In this is street is also located the tourist information center.
In 1889 the Rua das Flores (Flowers' Street) received the name Rua XV de Novembro (XV November Street), in homage to the Republic Proclamation. There It's located the main pedestrian�s zone of the city and this is street is the business heart of the city. Old luminaries, vases full of flowers and park benches are disposed along the main extension of the street.
In the central region of the city, in Praça Tiradentes (Tiradentes Square), we find the Basílica Menor de Nossa Senhora da Luz (Our Lady Light Minor Basilica), that is, the mother church of the city which was built in 1893 and inspired by Barcelona See. In Christmas' time the church gets all covered by lights and is an attraction in the city. Going through the historical part of the city, firstly we find two churches: the Curitiba's oldest church Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco das Chagas (São Francisco das Chagas Third Order Church), built in 1737, and Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário de São Benedito (São Benedito's Rosary Our Lady Church), built by the slaves in 1737 and the second oldest church of the city. Then we come across Relógio das Flores (Flowers' Clock), at Praça Garibaldi (Garibaldi Square), inaugurated in 1972. Its flowers are replace each quarter of a year, following the year's bloom.
The Passeio Público (Public Passage) is the city's meeting point on weekends. It was already a bog and botanical gardens. Its entrance gate is a copy of the old portal of the Paris Dogs' Cemetary. It offers as attractions the monkey, heron and lovers' islands, the suspension-bridge, an aquarium and a minizoo.
The Teatro Paiol (Paiol Theater) was built in 1874 and was used as a powder magazine. In 1971, it was transformed in an arena theater, preserving its Roman architetonic characteristics.
Our stay in Curitiba was a great dilemma. Firstly we thought in going to the city's hostel, but as we got to know by email contacts that there were only 6-people rooms and this would mean extra worries and continuous attention to our things, we preferred another option. As we would stay for a week in the city, we called a immobiliary in order to check the possibility of a spell appartment rental. But as it is not a coastal region, this possibility didn't exist. Finally we stayed in the region of Rua XV de Novembro (XV November Street), at Ohara Hotel, located in a street that passes beside the Paranás Federal University. It's not the cheapest hotel of the city, but considering what we saw that it would be the cheapest hotel, we got really satisfied with the choice.
We even tried to find other options during our stay, but the only better possibility would be an apart hotel in the city. What in the one hand would be cheaper, on the other hand would increase the distance for us and we would take really long walks to reach downtown. Besides this we would have to pay the parking-lot.
So, the decision factors for our definitive choice in staying in the hotel were: location, parking-lot included and reasonable price. However, we had to face a not so good breakfast and really old, dark and hot bedrooms. If we wanted air conditioner, we would have to pay extra. J
Dilemma's conclusion: the best solution to stay in the city is in a good price hotel in the region of XV November Street. This street is a strategic point once it's possible to reach easily all city attractions. For those people who need help to find a hotel, go to the 24 Hours Street as soon as you arrive in the city. There is a tourist information center there and they have inclusively a price list for the hotels.
Walking through downtown we received a leaflet from a boy. There was on it an announce from a small restaurant located in XV November Street. We went there to give a try and after that we didn't leave there anymore. Food was simple, home-made and of good quality. And the most important thing: cheap! JA typical dish of the region is the Barreado. It's done with cows meat cooked in clay pot for about 30 hours. The meat and its souce is mixed with cassavas flour until being formed a stiff pasta. The dish is well-made if the mixture doesn't fall when you turn the plate. It's served with bananas slices on it.
The city also has many dishes based on pine seed.
Being the Brazilian model city in transportation planning, we had to catch a bus in order to test this fact. It's really well-organized and the most interesting thing is the different bus types, offering agility to population. There are common buses that stop bus stop per bus stop and there are those ones called "ligeirinhos" (little swift) that stop only in the most important bus stops and this way they are able to move faster.
Bus stops are called tubes and give a more pleasant visual to the city.
There is a bus line called Jardineira which passes through the 16 main tourist attractions in the city. During the trip it's allowed to stop up to three times in places we would like most. Buses circulate on Sundays and holidays, passing each 30 minutes.
Another important characteristic of the city is the cycleways. There are more than 150 Km crossing the city.
For those people that like much sports, there are endless cooper tracks. it's really necessary wind! J
For those people who want to see more pictures/information about Curitiba, follow below some direct links to tourism sections (in English).
Galeria de Fotos (Photo Gallery), Atrações (Attractions) e Mapas (Maps) of Curitiba - in Portuguese