Porto Alegre Tourist Attractions
Situation and CharacteristicsThe "Gaúcho capital", Porto Alegre, on the lagoon-fringed coast of Rio Grande do Sul, was founded on March 26th 1772 under the name of Porto dos Casais by Portuguese settlers from the Azores. It lies on the left bank of the Rio Guaíba at the point where five rivers join to form the Lagoa dos Patos ("Duck Lagoon"). Porto Alegre is now the main center in an area which takes in the coastal strip and the regions in the Serra predominantly inhabited by the descendants of German and Italian immigrants.Bus stationLargo Vespasiano Júlio VeppoAirportAeroporto Internacional Salgado Filho
Parque FarroupilhaA little way east of the old town center is the Parque Farroupilha, a 32 hectare/80 acre triangular park - bounded by Avenidas Osvaldo Aranha, João Pessoa and José Bonifácio, in which is the neo-Gothic church of Santa Terezinha - with an abundance of trees, a lake, a small zoo and a variety of sports facilities.
Museu da Força Expedicionária Brasileira
Museu da Força Expedicionária BrasileiraIn Parque Farroupilha are the Auditório Araújo Viana, a kind of open-air theatre and the Museum of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force, with weapons, uniforms and photographs documenting Brazil's contribution to the Allied military effort in the Second World War.
Brique da Redenção
Brique da RedençãoAn attraction in the Farroupilha Park is the Brique da Redenção, a flea market held here every Sunday morning at which a wide range of old and second-hand objects can be bought or exchanged.
Museu Júlio de Castilhos
Museu Júlio de CastilhosThe Museu Júlio de Castilhos (Historical Museum) has collections of fossils and Indian craft products, but its main interest centers on the life and work of Júlio de Castilhos and Borges de Medeiros, two statesmen who played prominent parts in Rio Grande do Sul in the second half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th.
Avenida Duque de Caxias
Avenida Duquede CaxiasFrom the Farroupilha Park Avenida Duque de Caxias runs west towards the river, passing some of Porto Alegre's principal sights - the Museu Júlio de Castilhos and, on Praça da Matriz, the Cathedral, the Palácio Piratini (Government Palace), the Palácio Farroupilha (Parliament) and the São Pedro Theatre.
Parque da Harmonia
Parque da HarmoniaUpstream from Parque da Marinha, on the same side of the river, is the Parque da Harmonia (65 hectares/161 acres), within which are the old Largo dos Aáorianos and a racecourse.
Parque dos Moinhos de Vento
Parque dos Moinhos de VentoIn the Moinhos de Vento ("Windmills") district, is the Parque dos Moinhos de Vento, in which one windmill of the colonial period still survives.
Parque da Marinha
Parque da MarinhaOn the banks of the Rio Guaíba, in the Menino Deus district, is the Parque da Marinha (74 hectares/183 acres).
Centers of Gaúcho Tradition
Centers of Gaúcho TraditionA must for all tourists is a visit to one of the centers of Gaúcho tradition in Porto Alegre, with such names as Os Maragatos (supporters of the federalist movement in Rio Grande do Sul), Tropeiros da Tradição (traditional herdsmen) and Ponteiros do Rio Grande (cattle-drovers of Rio Grande), which offer visitors typical local dishes, served with chimarrão (green tea), and performances of traditional music and dancing. Detailed information about the programs of the various centers can be obtained from the Movimento Tradicionalista Gaúcho, Rua Guilherme Schell 60.
Mário Quintana Cultural Center
At the end of Rua da Praia, at its intersection with Rua Araújo Ribeira, is the Mário Quintana Cultural Center. Housed in the old Majestic Hotel - one of the city's best-known hotels, a pioneering example of modern architecture with its concrete walls and eclectic façade - it has halls for dramatic performances, a video club, a record library, a library and reading room and exhibition, conference and teaching rooms. On the ground floor there are shows of video films on the poet Mário Quintana, who lived in the hotel until 1980. Here too his books can be bought. The glass domes on the terrace open up a view of the Rio Guaíba.
Boat Trips on Rio Guaíba
Boat trips on Rio GuaíbaOne of the most attractive travel experiences in Porto Alegre is a boat trip on the Rio Guaíba. The boats leave from the Tourist Dock near the Usina do Gasómetro (Avenida João Goulart), to the west of the city center, and sail to the Ilhas do Lage and dos Marinheiros, where there are small beaches offering good bathing in summer.
Museum of Art of Rio Grande do Sul
The Museum of Art of Rio Grande do Sul, on Praça da Alfândega, has a specialist library, a picture gallery and collections of sculpture, tapestries and ceramics. The picture gallery displays works by Portinari, Di Cavalcanti, Debret, Manabu Mabe, southern Brazilian artists like Carlos Scliar, Vasco Prado, Francisco Stockinger, Franz Schaeffer, Marcelo Grassmann and many more.
Teatro São Pedro
The neo-Baroque Teatro São Pedro (1850; national monument) is one of the finest buildings in Porto Alegre. It has recently been restored, with financial help from wealthy citizens of Porto Alegre. The restoration has respected the original structure and architectural forms but has incorporated contemporary functional features.
Museum of Natural Sciences
The Museum of Natural Sciences (Museu de Ciéncias Naturais) on Avenida Ipiranga has some 10,000 mineralogical, zoological and archaeological exhibits - in effect a complete survey of the natural treasures of Rio Grande do Sul.
Rua dos Andradas
Parallel to Avenida Duque de Caixas on the north is Rua das Andradas, better known under its old name of Rua da Praia. This is the real heart of the city, with the best shops, and the favorite rendezvous of intellectuals and bohemians. In this street are the church of Nossa Senhora das Dores (1883-91), with paintings by Portuguese artists, and the Museum of Social Communication, housed in the former offices of the newspaper "A Federação", the organ of the Partido Republicano Gaúcho.
Between Rua da Praia and Avenida Mauá, which runs through the harbor area, are a number of fine public buildings. On Praça 15 de Novembro is the public Market Hall (Mercado), where foodstuffs, imported articles, a great range of the maté teas characteristic of the region and craft products from the Gaúcho country are offered for sale. A little way beyond this are the docks and the Prefecture.
Morro Santa Tereza
The beaches on the Rio Guaíba (Ipanema, Pedra Redonda, Guarujá and Belém Novo), which are not suitable for bathing, are reached by way of Avenidas Beira-Rio, Coronel Marcos and Padre Cacique. Avenida Padre Cacique also leads to the hill of Morro Santa Tereza (131m/430ft), still within the city area, from which there is a fine view of the Rio Guaíba.
The Palácio Piratini (national monument), built in 1909 and decorated in Louis XVI style, is the seat of the state government of Rio Grande do Sul. The mural paintings in the palace were the work of Aldo Locatelli, an Italian immigrant.
Porto Alegre Museum
The Museu de Porto Alegre, in the old Palácio de Lopo Gonçalves (Rua João Alfredo, in the lower town, near the Teatro de Câmara), has a collection of relics and photographs of old Porto Alegre.
Varig Museum (closed)
The Museu da Varig (the airline Viação Aérea Riograndense) displays aircraft parts and engines illustrating the history of civil aviation in Brazil.
Port Alegre - Surroundings
There are a couple of attractions in the area around Porto Alegre.
São Leopoldo34km/21mi north of Porto Alegre is the town of São Leopoldo, founded in 1824 by the first party of German immigrants in Rio Grande do Sul. The settlers, establishing themselves on the left bank of the Rio dos Sinos, devoted themselves to farming, small-scale industry and craft production, thus laying the foundations for the town's future industrial development. On Avenida Feitoria is the Casa do Imigrante, the house occupied by the first German settlers in the region. The São Leopoldo Museum has a collection of material on the early days of the town. Other features of interest are the Museum do Trem (Railway Museum), in the old railway station (built by a British firm in 1875), and the Parque de Recreação do Trabalhador (Workers' Recreation Park), which is also a forest reserve (access via BR 116).
Pampas Safari Park
Parque Saint Hilaire
Parque Saint Hilaire17km/10.5mi east of Porto Alegre (RS 040, Viamão exit) is the Parque Saint Hilaire, a large forest reserve with picnic areas and barbecue sites. 14km/8.7mi beyond this, in the commune of Viamão, is the Tarumã racecourse.
Map of Porto Alegre Attractions