Thursday, 27 August 2015

Petropólis


Just 68 kilometres outside of Rio de Janeiro lies Petrópolis, also known as The Imperial City.  It's a beautiful drive out of Rio, away from all the overwhelming hustle and bustle of the city.  The drive up into the mountains isn't for the weak hearted with all the twists and turns but the coconut pit stops and the views make it worth it.

The town's name ("city of Peter") honors Emperor Pedro II, the nation's second monarch.  The city was also the summer residence of the Brazilian Emperors and aristocrats in the 19th century, it was the official capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro between 1894 and 1902.  Currently it's a very popular winter holiday spot with my Rio de Janeiro locals owning holiday homes here.


Catedral de Petrópolis

Historically German settlers from the Rhineland were encouraged to settle here which explains the in parts, Germanic feel to the town.  The town also has many beautiful coloured holiday villas where most of the Brazilian aristocracy lived during the 19th Century


I was most excited to visit the Casa Stefan Zweig.  Stefan Zweig was a famous Jewish Austrian author who fled Austrian following the rise to power of Hitler.  Zweig and his wife fled to the UK, then New York before eventually settling in Petrópolis.  Here they lived for 5 months in a very small house in the middle of the jungle entertaining local creatives and others who had fled Europe following the rise of National Socialsim.

Zweig and his wife desperately sought some solace and peace after their turbulent exile but the peace in Petrópolis became lonleliness and deperession.  5 months after their arrival Zweig and his wife Lotte were found dead on their dead holding hands, having taken an overdose of barbiturates.

Seeing their home was deeply moving in understanding their struggles.  As a German I'm very conscious of the great devastation that WWII brought, seeing the way they lived really hit home and the visit has stayed with me since.

Also well worth a visit is the Palácio Rio Negro.  It is one of the official residences of the President of Brazil, of which is has hosted 16, but it was mainly used as a country retreat.

The palace was used more frequently when Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil.  But in 1960 the capital city status was transferred to the newly founded capital city of Brasília in a bid to bring progress to the interior of Brazil.  The palace was not used at all in the 1970s and it is still rarely used by the President of Brazil.

For a visit it is very interesting, it's free to enter and it's fascinating to see the mix of interior styles, many of them are very European but with a South American flair.

It was a really interesting day and great to get out of Rio for a little bit.  Rio is overwhelming, you almost want 10 pairs of eyes so you can look at everything and take it all in.

Tomorrow we're off on a little 'Bank Holiday' trip to the Iguazu Falls which boarder Argentina and Brazil  It's amazing to be able to see South America and I have to pinch myself that this is real and not a crazy vivid dream. 


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3 comments

  1. I haven't actually heard of Petropolis! Would've been really interesting to see, though. Have an awesome time at Iguazu, the falls are amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's a beautiful place!
    Beautiful pictures.

    Would you like to follow each other?
    xoxo.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like a fascinating place. Definetley putting it on my "to go" list. Your pictures are so stunning. x

    ReplyDelete

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