Top 5 free attractions in Curitiba
Text and Photos: Rapha Aretakis
Curitiba, the state’s capital of Paraná in southern Brazil, is considered quiet if compared to other Brazilian metropolis. It has high levels of education; its public transport system – innovative at the time – was the model for the Bogota’s TransMilenio. The city, which continued growing and developing by receiving a large number of Germans, Italians, Ukrainians and Polish immigrants, offers one of the best qualities of life in Brazil. Additionally, Curitiba stands out for being a green city, with a strong environmental awareness, with about 40 parks and groves. Here’s a list of Curitiba’s 5 famous (and free) attractions:
Botanical Garden – Wander around the largest postcard of Curitiba is completely free. Whether on a beautiful morning or on a late afternoon, the visit to the Botanical Garden is always a catch. It is an oasis in the middle of the city, where you can hear the birds, sharpen the senses in the ‘Garden of Sensations’, go its geometrical gardens, sit by the lake and even enter the iconic greenhouse, inspired by a Londoner Crystal Castle. On warm days, drinking some cold coconut water or sugar cane juice in one of the entrances is very refreshing. For local people, mostly on weekdays, the Botanical Garden’s tracks are used for jogging.
Street fair of ‘Largo da Ordem’ – A Sunday tradition since 1973, more than a thousand booths cover the streets of Curitiba Historic Center, gathering thousands of people every week. Multicultural and effervescent, you can find from crafts to typical foods from all over the world, artistic interventions and antiques. The fair is free of charge, but you may need some cash if you want to taste some treats or bringing some souvenirs home, nothing that compromises the trip budget, though. A must go for anyone visiting the city.
Unilivre | Zaninelli’s Grove – Used for granite exploitation around the 1940’s, Zaninelli’s Grove is nowadays a preserved area. There you’ll find the Unilivre – the ‘Free University of the Environment’, a space to exchange knowledge about ecology and the environment – a wooden building that blends harmoniously with the atmosphere of the place. The walkway, also in wood, goes over the water surface in the forest; it’s such a beautiful path. It flows into the quarry’s lake, which is full of fish and birds around it. To see everything from the top, just take a smooth hike to the gazebo. For sure another peaceful spot in Curitiba.
German Grove – Sharing the gold medal is the German Grove, which has been a family property in the past but today is a public space to be enjoyed by anyone. Full of symbolism, which refers to the Germanic culture, the grove is a great place to go with children. Besides the ‘Bach’s Oratory’ and it’s cozy concert hall and the belvedere ‘Philosopher’s Tower’, there is a special trail where you can follow the brothers Grimm’s tale of John and Mary. Right in the middle of the trail you’ll find the ‘Witch’s House’, where, on the weekends, are presented to children the most diverse tales. Closing the trail, we came across the German Gate reproducing the facade of Casa Mila, residence built in the city in 1870. To sweeten the visit up there, right next to Bach’s Oratory is Erika Patisserie, typically German. Feel free to sit in one of the tables and prove their pies without hesitating, they are divine.
Ukrainian Memorial – In the lands of Tingui Park, these wooden buildings caught my attention since my very first visit to the city, in 2011. The Ukrainian Memorial was built in 1995 in honor of the centenary of the arrival of immigrants from that country to the state. Its main building is the replica of St. Michael’s Church in Serra do Tigre, located in southern Paraná. On the inside you’ll find the Icon and Easter Eggs (here in Brazil called Pêssankas) Museum. Hand-painted Eggs of all kinds with symbols full of meanings. The place is really calm and beautiful. It’s so unique that we forget we’re in Brazil for a while. With no doubt, my favorite tourist spot in the city.
Rapha Aretakis is a travel writer and creator of the travel website Raphanomundo. Born in Recife – northeast of Brazil, believes that the world is too big to stand at one place only. She lives now in Curitiba after spending some springs in Stuttgart, Berlin and Sao Paulo.