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February 8, 2008

Porto Alegre - Rio Grande do Sul


Porto Alegre - Rio Grande do Sul - Brazilian Cities

The gaucho capital has a privileged location. A strategic point within Mercosur, Porto Alegre is the geographical center of the major routes of the Southern Cone and it is located at equivalent distance both from Buenos Aires and Montevideo, as well as from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro cities. Whoever arrives there meets an important business center and the gateway to the major tourist attractions in the region.

Porto Alegre

Whoever strolls along Porto Alegre’s streets is surprised with its perennial vegetation, hills, and ponds. What is also dazzling is the preservation condition of its historic buildings, which shelter memories and culture. But what really charms visitors is the surprisingly harmonious match of its welcoming manner of an interior town with the fast hustle and bustle of a large urban center, its architecture as the icon of modernity, and the cultural heterogeneity.

Such is Porto Alegre, past and present constantly balanced – always accompanied by barbecue and a tasteful chimarrão.

It gathers exhibition and book sales, an autograph afternoon, lectures, literary parties, and even plastic arts shows. It is held always on the second fortnight of November, at Praça da Alfândega.

Farroupilha Week
Musical and dancing shows from the Pampas region, typical foods, and a traditionalist parade. This event always takes place from September 13th to 20th.

An 8-day cattle-raising and agribusiness fair. It is always held between August and September, in the municipality of Esteio, 24 km away from Porto Alegre.

Latin American Handicraft Fair
It gathers over 13 countries in exhibitions throughout the year. Crafty pieces and antiques are exhibited in shows on Saturdays, at 5ª Avenida Center and, on Sundays, at “Brique da Redenção” (Handicraft Fair).

Porto Alegre City Hall – “Paço dos Açorianos” (The Palace of the Azoreans)
Ornamented in neoclassic style, its construction was started in 1898. Across the City Hall is the “Fonte Talavera de La Reina”, a gift from that Spanish colony in 1935, during the celebration of the centennial of the Farroupilha Revolution. The sculptures embellishing the façade stand for Economy, Education, and Politics. It became a historic site in 1979. The city’s center milestone is there. The city hall lies at Praça Montevidéu, 10, Downtown.

Central Public Market
It was inaugurated in 1869, but the second floor was only completed in the year 1913. Between 1995 and 1996 it went through a large refurbishment, which modified its internal structure and renovated its external part. Its more than one hundred stores host spices and typical products of the gaucho culture. Restaurants, cafeterias, and ice cream shops supplement the offer of goods and services. It became a historic landmark in 1979. It lies at Glênio Peres Square, Downtown – XV de Novembro Plaza.

Chalet of the XV de Novembro Plaza
Located along the Glênio Peres Square, it is one of the most traditional bar-draft beer-restaurants in the city, where the last “lambe-lambe” photographs of the region work. [“Lambe-lambes” are photographers who develop pictures outdoor using the oldest method known.] In the Bavarian style, with art nouveau traits, the centenary Chalet was built up on a demountable steel structure, keeping its original chandeliers and tiles even nowadays. It is located at XV de Novembro Plaza, Downtown.

Glênio Peres Square
Inaugurated in 1922, it hosts artistic-cultural and political manifestations. The paving recovers the drawing existing in front of the City Hall building in the 30’s, similar to a Persian carpet comprised by gray basalt flagstones and Portuguese black, white, and pink stones. The J.G. Brill model Streetcar, used in that very decade, is there.

Post and Telegraph Offices
Built in the beginning of the century, the building is featured by the influence of Germanic baroque architecture. Bronze-domed asymmetric towers recall the helmets worn by the Prussian army. At the center of the building is Atlas, a Greek mythology character who was convicted to bear the world upon his shoulders. A female figure representing the old continent and the figure of an adolescent boy, simulating the new continent, comprise the ensemble. It became a historic landmark by the National Historic Site Office in 1981 and it is at Alfândega Plaza, Downtown.

Museum of Art of Rio Grande do Sul – MARGS
With a predominantly neoclassic style, the building was designed by German architect Theo Wiederspahn. Originally it was the headquarters of the Fiscal Surveillance Agency of the Federal Revenue Office. Nowadays, it hosts the largest collection of works in Rio Grande do Sul, many of which were created by renowned local, national, and foreign artists. The internal spaces are illuminated through “vitreauxes” (artistic window glasses) embellishing the major hall ceiling. The building became a historic landmark by the National Historic Site Office in 1983 and it is at Alfândega Plaza, Downtown. You may visit it from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Arquipélago (Archipelago)
Guaíba Lake receives water from Jacuí, Caí, Sinos, and Gravataí Rivers. On the islands, which are the result of this water confluence, the "Delta do Jacuí" (Jacuí Delta) State Park was created in 1976. The archipelago is comprised by 28 islands, most of which are not inhabited. There, 329 vegetal specimens, 108 kinds of birds and over 20 species of fish thrive, in addition to hundreds of other animals. Some islands are connected to the continent by the Regis Bittencourt Crossing – the well-known "Ponte do Guaíba” (Guaíba Bridge). Grande dos Marinheiros, Pavão, Flores, and Pintada islands shelter a 15-thousand people population. The islanders live on waste recycling and fishing, and also produce handicraft.

Ilha da Pintada (Pintada Island)
Ilha da Pintada is part of the group of islands comprising the Delta do Jacuí State Park. Currently, crafty fishing is the most representative economic activity in the place. Its population descends from Azorean immigrants.

The sunset, as seen from the Guaíba Lake, blankets the city with golden lights. Every day the most diverse viewers wait for the twilight show along its 72 km shore.

Morros (Hills)
A ring of granitic hills aged 730 million years enframes Porto Alegre, occupying 65% of the city area. The hills are part of the Southern Rio Grande Shield - a triangular platform 48 thousand sq. km long, originated from rocks which melted under intense pressure and heat inside the Earth, and then emerged, rising as high as the mountains. Nowadays, spalled and cracked by the erosion of million of years, small round-topped hills are formed and are predominant in the gaucho capital landscape.

Morro Santana (Santana Hill)
It is the city’s highest peak. Over half of its extension – about one thousand hectares – is owned by the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. At its 311 meters high are native forests and fields, waterfalls, swamps, marshes, lakes, brooks, and cascades. A unique landscape.

Morro do Osso (Osso Hill)
It is located between Tristeza, Camaquá, and Ipanema districts. From the top of its 143 meters, with an over 200-degree panoramic view, one can see the Guaíba Lake, Ipanema Beach, Downtown Porto Alegre, and a few hills. A share of this Hill lines off the Osso Hill Natural Park, which must soon be expanded. The park has a head office with an auditorium for educational activities, forester service, and an environmental educational program.

Morro São Pedro (São Pedro Hill)
It lies between Restinga and Lami districts. From its 289 meters high, it is possible to see part of the city’s Southern Zone, Lami Beach, and Itapuã Lighthouse. With over one thousand hectares, it has several clean and preserved stream fountains. There you can find four basic vegetal formations: clean field, with tripping vegetation; dirty field, with clumps of shrub and semi-shrubby vegetation; the gallery forest, which flows across the brooks; and pluvial subtropical wood or forest. In addition to campo flickers, partridges, “sabiás”, southern house wrens, and sparrow hawks, other animals in danger of extinction, as auburn monkeys, live in this hill.

Morro Santa Teresa (Santa Teresa Hill)
Located at Santa Teresa District, this hill is 148 m above sea level, providing a panoramic view of the shores of Guaíba Lake along the “Marinha do Brasil” and Maurício Sirotsky Sobrinho (Harmonia) parks. From Ruy Ramos belvedere, at the hilltop, it is also possible to see some of the archipelago islands, the “Usina do Gasômetro” (Gasholder Plant), and Downtown Porto Alegre. Santa Teresa is known for sheltering several TV and radio stations, being this the reason why the population nicknamed it as "TV Hill".

Botanical Garden
With an area of approximately 43 hectares, the Botanical Garden is in the district named for it, between Cristiano Fischer Avenue and Salvador França Avenue. It has scientific collections with over two thousand issues, 725 vegetal species, spread along the different open areas in the park. It also has a Germplasm Bank, a Seed Bank and a Sapling Terrarium, in addition to developing environmental educational activities. The Natural Sciences Museum is headquartered at the Garden and preserves flora and fauna species from the State Natural Patrimony.

Farroupilha Park (Redenção)
It is located at Farroupilha District. Its 370 thousand sq. meters of extension hosts 45 copper and marble monuments, a luminous fountain and the “O Expedicionário" (The Expeditionary One) monument, representing a double Triumph Arch with relief sculptures which are a homage to Brazilian soldiers who fought in Italy during the World War II. It also hosts a mini-zoo, an amusement park for children, a solar retreat, a market, soccer and bowl fields, cycleways, athletic sports track, gymnastics equipment, and an auditorium for 4,500 people. On Sundays, the Brique da Redenção Fair takes place.

Maurício Sirotsky Sobrinho Park (Harmonia Park)
Located at Cidade Baixa District, it has 300 thousand sq. meters, hosting in its area a replica of a traditional gaucho farm - the Harmonia Ranch -, designed to maintain and practice the regionalist culture. It also has an aeromodelling track, a nautimodelling tank, children’s sites, soccer and bowl fields, volleyball courts, and over 100 barbecue grills available in different areas of the park.

Saint Hilaire Park
Located on RS-040 highway, at about km 02, this park is 17 km away from Downtown Porto Alegre. It has 11.8 sq. km, 240 hectares of which are designed to leisure and 940 hectares reserved to permanent preservation. Its name is a homage to scientist Augustin François César Prouvençal de Saint-Hilaire, an internationally renowned French traveler and naturalist who lived in Brazil for many years. The park infrastructure has soccer fields, bowl fields, volleyball courts and indoor soccer fields, aeromodelling and skating tracks, a playground and approximately 100 barbecue grills.

Mascarenhas de Moraes Park
Officially created in 1984, the park has a total area of 182,383 sq. meters. In addition, it has an ecologic reserve of approximately 6 hectares, inhabited by many flora and fauna species. The Southern Wing of the park has a playground and three volleyball courts; in the central part are the park administration office, soccer and bowl fields, volleyball courts, soccer seven fields and multipurpose courts and fields. Mascarenhas de Moraes Park is at Humaitá District.

Chico Mendes Park
It pays a homage to preservationist Francisco Alves Mendes Filho, commonly known as Chico Mendes, the union leader of rubber tappers and a great defender of the Amazon forest, murdered in 1988, in Acre State. The park occupies 247 thousand sq. meters and it is located still at an urban consolidation stage area. It has a forest of eucalyptuses and a small ecologic reserve comprised basically of native trees which ensure the survival of several species of the avifauna. It also has a volleyball court, a basketball court, two soccer fields, three bowl fields, table games, gymnastics equipment, cooper lanes, rest rooms, a playground, and an area with barbecue grills. The Chico Mendes Memorial and the outdoor amphitheater are designed to ceremonies and cultural agendas.

Parque Marinha do Brasil (The Brazilian Navy’s Park)
It occupies an area of 715 thousand sq. meters at Praia de Belas District. From there one can admire the waters of Guaíba Lake. Sportspeople enjoy the park very much due to its infrastructure characteristics – it has four tennis courts, five multipurpose courts, a soccer field, six indoor soccer fields, an athletic sports track, a skating track, a skateboard track, nine sand soccer fields, a mourning hall and gymnastics equipment. Bicycle and quadricycle rental is also available. It also has a playground and a small amusement park. Out of its total area, 11 hectares represent forests and grass-covered spaces where there are many native trees and exotic species.

Parque Moinhos de Vento (Moinhos de Vento [Windmills] Park)
It has 115 thousand sq. meters and offers sports infrastructure with a soccer field, tennis court, bowl field, gymnastics equipment, skating track, multipurpose courts, and athletic sports tracks. The Park administrative head offices were built in the shape of an artificial windmill debouching as a small cascade. Turtles, geese, drakes, and fish live at the site. The avifauna becomes more abundant in the fruiting period of trees and shrubs of the park. There is also a library for children, containing one thousand books, especially devoted to ecologic literature. The Park lies at Moinhos de Vento District.

Lami Biological Reserve
The city has a Biological Reserve 170 hectares long within its territorial limits. Lami Biological Reserve shelters a meteorological station and a terrarium of native saplings. The diverse atmospheres enable growing over 300 vegetal species and a higher number of animal species; the swamps and reeds are home to many aquatic organisms.

Historic Buildings
Porto Alegre is a huge outdoor architectonic museum. The different styles are concentrated especially downtown, recording on the buildings the influences which marked the capital city’s golden time. Therefore, walking across the narrow streets of the historical center, one may see buildings with baroque characteristics – as the “Casa da Junta” – sharing the space with the modern architecture of Farroupilha Palace – a place that today hosts the State Legislative Assembly.

The monuments of the gaucho capital city may be seen in several points throughout the city. They are exhibited in public spaces, as the Júlio de Castilhos Monument, at Praça da Matriz (Main Church Square), embellishing the façade of public buildings, as the collection of statues adorning the Old City Hall, at Praça Montevidéu. Porto Alegre also has a series of modern works, such as the Monument to the Azoreans, located across the “Ponte de Pedra" (Stone Bridge).

Cultural Centers
Porto Alegre offers large spaces for shows, as the "Anfiteatro Pôr-do-Sol” (Sunset Amphitheater) on the shores of Guaíba Lake, or areas for qualified exhibitions, as the rooms of Mário Quintana House of Culture and the Gasholder Plant.

Brique da Redenção (Handicraft Fair)
It sells from old objects to regional handicraft and plastic arts. Furthermore, it has become a meeting point for Porto Alegre’s youth. It is at José Bonifácio Avenue, inside the Farroupilha Park. It is open every Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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