About Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre is the state capital of Rio Grande do Sul and the biggest urban agglomeration of south Brazil. The perfect blend of Brazilian-Portuguese and River Plate-Spanish cultures, added to a strong European heritage gives the city a unique background within Brazil. The city is one of the richest metropolis in the country, the state capital with the highest life quality and literacy rate (97%), the book capital of Brazil.

The gaúchos are very proud of their land and culture. In 1835 a revolution which declared Rio Grande do Sul independent from Brazil broke out, the most significant national conflict of the Brazilian Empire (1822-1889), named the Farroupilha Revolution or Farrapos War. This war wreaked havoc across the entire state during 10 bloody years, killing nearly 20% of the gaúchos and ultimately leading to a peace treaty where the Republica Riograndense once again became part of Brazil. Another major Brazilian revolution also began in Rio Grande do Sul. The Federalist Revolution of 1893 defended the decentralization of powers and greater autonomy for the states, and only finished in 1895, after spreading to two other states. It was also in Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre) where the 1930 Revolution which overthrew the president Washington Luis began, and so was from Rio Grande do Sul the most important Brazilian communist revolutionary of all times: Luis Carlos Prestes, who led the nation-wide communist upheaval in 1935. For such reasons, among many others, the Gaúchos (Riograndenses) are particularly proud of their mother state, many considering themselves as gauchos rather than Brazilians.

Currently, Porto Alegre is a service centered city in between the industrial part of the state (north-east) and the rural part (south). It is also called the “Mercosul Capital”. Source by Wikitravel

History

Porto Alegre began as a large farm whose surroundings were inhabited by Indians from several different tribes. A small village formed in the area in 1752 by settlers mainly from the Azores, and in 1772 the parish of São Francisco do Porto dos Casais was formed. A year later the bishop changed the parish’s name to Nossa Senhora Madre de Deus do Porto Alegre (Our Lady Mother of God of the Happy Port) and the city was selected as the location for the provincial government.

Porto Alegre had become a city of 12,000 inhabitants by 1822, the year the Brazil gained independence. The main port facilities were built between 1845 and 1860. By the end of the century the population had risen to 73,000. The city became known worldwide in 1963 through hosting the World University Games. In 1985 the people of Porto Alegre joined the movement for free elections and one of the largest demonstrations took place in the city. Source by Wikipedia

 

Attractions

Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Madre de Deus

Although its construction began in 1921, this cathedral wasn’t fully completed until 1986. Its predominant style is Italian Renaissance, but note the twin bell towers, which were inspired by 17th-century Jesuit missions. The facade’s mosaic panels were made in the Vatican ateliers.

Memorial do Rio Grande do Sul

Built to house the post-office headquarters at the turn of the 20th century, this building was declared a national architectural landmark in 1981. It now houses a state museum. Although the overall style is neoclassical, German baroque influences are strong; the asymmetrical corner towers with their bronze rotundas are said to resemble Prussian army helmets. A permanent exhibit focuses on the state’s history and the lives of important gaúchos, and the second floor houses one of the country’s largest collections of documents and manuscripts about Brazilian society.

Mercado Público

Constructed in 1869, the neoclassical Public Market has undergone repeated renovations, the last of which added the glass roof that now covers the central inner plaza. With these changes, some of the produce stalls have been replaced by souvenir shops, cafés, and restaurants, taking away a bit of the boisterous bazaar ambience but increasing the options for the visitor.

Parque Estadual de Itapoã

Where the Rio Guaíba flows into Lagoa dos Patos, 57 km (35 miles) south of Porto Alegre, Itapoã State Park protects 12,000 acres of granitic hills and sandy beaches. Although the infrastructure is minimal, visitors can bathe in the river, walk along marked trails, and watch magnificent sunsets. Rare cacti, bands of bugios (howler monkeys), and a century-old lighthouse round out the list of park highlights.

Centro Cultural Santander

This stately building, constructed in 1927–32 and the former headquarters of various banks, is now owned by Banco Santander of Spain, which has transformed it into a cultural center and gallery (it’s no longer a working bank). Guided tours (Portuguese only) show the intricate ironwork of the entrance door and second-floor balcony as well as the ceiling’s neoclassical paintings.

Museu de Arte do Rio Grande do Sul

At this art museum housed in the old, neoclassical customs building you can also see paintings, sculptures, and drawings by gaúcho and other Brazilian artists from several periods. Two works of Di Cavalcanti—one of the country’s most renowned painters—are exhibited as well as several pieces by local sculptor Xico Stockinger.

Museu Júlio de Castilhos

The small Júlio de Castilhos Museum is the oldest in the state. On display is an impressive collection of gaúcho documents, firearms, clothing, and household utensils. The home belonged to Governor Julio de Castilhos, who lived here at the turn of the 20th century, before the Palácio Piratini was built.

Palácio Piratini

The Roman columns of the stately governor’s mansion convey a solidity and permanence uncommon in official Brazilian buildings. In the main room murals by Aldo Locatelli depict gaúcho folktales.

Parque da Ferradura

The Parque da Ferradura, an untamed nature park, affords splendid panoramic views over the horseshoe-shaped valley of the Rio Caí. You can take any one of several paths for walkers in the araucaria forests to see Serra Gaúcha from different vantage points. Source by Fodors