The beautiful mountain town of Petropolis in Brazil known as Serra Fluminense, allures tourists from all over the world. The town is named after Pedro I. Petropolis, the first emperor of Brazil. The beauty of the region’s natural wonders was an impetus for the Emperors to develop the town to make it comfortable for its inhabitants. The town is a favorite hideout for Rio’s residents including intellectuals, craftsmen and artists who want to get away from the bustling metropolis on the weekends. Plenty of opportunities are available for the adventure seeker in the form of eco-tourism, water sports, hiking and much more.
Getting to Petropolis
The cariocas are the most frequent visitors since the town is only a two hour drive from Rio. Local buses are cheap and are available throughout the day. Be prepared for an adventurous ride with plenty of steep hills to conquer.
Walking Tours and Retail Therapy
Being a mountainous region, Petropolis experiences cooler weather so you don’t have to worry about fixing your trip according to weather patterns. Rest assured you will be far from the heat and humidity that Rio experiences during the summer months.
The beauty of Petropolis is its parks, bridges and canals which you can wander through. Most streets have lamps from the 18th century. A walking tour through the town lasts for about 3 hours, which is enough to include a bit of shopping as well. The tour will take you to the tombs of the late emperor Dom Pedro II, his wife and daughter, at the Cathedral Sao Pedro de Alcantara. The gothic style church is finely decorated with Carrara marble, onyx and bronze.
Palácio de Cristal (Crystal Palace)
Splendid glasswork imported from France is what strikes you as you approach the Crystal Palace. It stands proud in the center of the town in the middle of a small park. The palace is used for special events, seminars and expositions. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens and two fountains on each side of the entrance.
Museu Imperial (Imperial Museum)
The former residence of Emperor Peter II is now a museum that exhibits paintings that depict life during the Imperial rule. Make a trip to the palace of Dom Pedro II and you will get to see the imperial crown with 639 diamonds and 77 pearls. The museum also exhibits documents of historical events such as the decree that ended slavery, which was signed by Princess Isabel.
Other places of historical importance are Museu Casa de Santos Dumont, a 3-storey house that was originally the summer home of the father of Brazilian aviation, Alberto Santos Dumont. Praça Expedicionários or Expeditioners Square, is a memorial for those who fought and died during World War II. The square now hosts a weekend fair where you can grab a good bargain on souvenirs.
While there is plenty for the history buff, there are also many fine restaurants in Petropolis, which include the authentic Churrascarias or Brazilian steakhouses. Plenty of restaurants serve traditional Brazilian meals. If you are thinking of making a day trip to Petropolis from Rio then you may need to reconsider your thoughts. Once you get there, the lush tropical gardens and the fresh air will definitely hold you back. Sleep the sleep of innocence and let the chirping of birds awaken you in the morning, instead of the loud horn of a city slicker driving to work.