Petrópolis. Town in Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil

Petrópolis - Sightseeing and landmarks

Town in Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil

Catedral de Petrópolis Photo © Rodrigo Soldon


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Petrópolis is a city in the state of Rio de JaneiroBrazil. The mild climate, the historical buildings, and the lush vegetation are major tourist attractions. Besides, what attracts enough tourists to the city of Petrópolis is the fact of being a mountain town in the middle of the bustling of Rio de Janeiro. That is, you can find a environment in a European style, surrounded by mountains and with a pleasant climate for those who is looking to escape of the beaches full of people.
Apart from all these aspects that attract 2 out of 3 tourists wordwide, the city of Petrópolis has gained prominence for its gastronomy. The freshly baked products of their rural area combined with the competence of chefs who have chosen this city to mount its restaurants and bistros, Petrópolis raised to the rank of one of the five best grastronomic centers in the country, which attracts tourists from around the world who care for good food.
For these facts and for the beautiful sights of the city it is impossible to visit Rio de Janeiro without going through the wonderful and pleasant city of Petrópolis. If you do not know what are the sights of the city stay awhile and you will find them below.


It all started in 1830, when Dom Pedro I purchased the farm Córrego Seco to build a residence in the Sierra, where the Imperial Family could escape from the sweltering summers of the Quinta da Boa Vista (Wikipedia Article).
In 1831, the twists and turns of politics had led Dom Pedro I to abdicate of the throne and return to Portugal. The future King Pedro II, prince child, was left behind, preparing to rule a vast country, until then controlled by confusing regencies.

For more than 12 years, everything seemed to indicate that the “Village - City of Petrópolis” project would forever remain forgotten in the drawers of its creator, Butler Imperial Paulo Barbosa. Who could renovate the Imperial Farm of oblivion and make it more than a simple village of passage, always covered by fog? For this challenge was undertaken by a man who excelled at performing under adverse situations, which many considered impossible, the military engineer, Julius Frederick Koeler.

Koeler was a military engineer, who in 1837 built several sections of the Normal Road of the Sierra of the Star and the Itamaraty Road without the need of slave labor. To do this, he convinced a group of German settlers who had landed in Rio de Janeiro - and were unhappy with the treatment they received during their time on the ship Justine - to stay in Brazil.
Convinced that this was the most suitable man to build his city, Dom Pedro II signed the Decree 155 on March 16, 1843, by which he leased Koeler the Imperial Farm of Concordia, formerly “Córrego Seco”, with the condition that he build, not only the town but also the Summer Palace, a church, and a cemetery.
And that's what happened, Koeler brought about 2,000 German settlers to Petrópolis during the year of 1845 and fulfilled his promise. For all his efforts emerged the Petrópolis Imperial, the first planned city in Latin America, with its tamed rivers and his palace being skirted by gardens, houses, squares, and privileged corners.
From this, the target was set. The darling of the Emperor was destined to a grand vocation. A charm that is still being renewed for the visitors - and for those who have the privilege of living in the city.


Auditório Museu Imperial

The auditorium is a suitable media space for holding courses, seminars, lectures, conferences, films, debates, concerts, among other accomplishments. It attracts both tourists ( with lectures about the city and its history, among others) as well as residents of the city.

Biblioteca de Cláudio de Souza

The Library of Cláudio de Souza is composed of about 660 books by the writer and some which were possessed by him, including rare works. The collection is focused on literature, theater, and music.
The library is open to the public from Tuesday to Friday, from 13.30 PM to 17.30 PM (there is no entrance fee) and in the morning (must be booked by email at

Museu de Cera de Petrópolis

This is the first wax museum in Brazil with international artistic standards of hyperrealism which are portrayed by Brazilian and international personalities. This magical place has the capability to carry the visitors back in the time. The Museu de Cera de Petrópolis is a space which holds the political, cultural, and social history of the both Brazil and the world. Museu de Cera de Petrópolis is an entertainment venue capable of awakening an interest in history, told through great personalities. It presents historical figures, science, politics, comics, and art in general, represented in figures of life-size wax, such as Pedro II, Santos Dumont; Einstein, Alfred Hitchcock; Batman, Superman; Gilberto Gil, among others, especially in scenarios designed to provide thrills and surprises.

Natural Attractions

Pico do Alcobaça

The Peak of Alcobaça was incorporated into the Yosemite National Park in 1989. It is also part of the ecological reserve of Alcobaça. Thus, the park can be visited by tourists throughout the year, with the main features of the various mountains and the ride to the famous Peak of Alcobaça.

Cachoeira Véu da Noiva

This waterfall is typically used for rappelling and climbing, they also have their own natural pool for swimming. Also, while on the ride, one may see a trail overlooking the Vale do Bonfim and major mountains of the park. From there, it is possible to see many wells, waterfalls, springs, and some caves. This is a good option for family visits because it has a shallow area where the children can play.

Cachoeira dos Treze

This is a waterfall with two drops, one which is 49 feet high and the other which is 98 feet in height. Perfect for bathing, the area is also ideal for picnics.

How to Get There

From Rio de Janeiro

While leaving Rio de Janeiro, go north on Av Francisco Bicalho toward Av. Brazil.
In Av. Brazil, head towards the Red Line - President João Goulart Highway - and take the exit toward the BR-040 - Washington Luiz Highway - along the sidetrack.
The BR-040 is a privatized, modern, well signposted, and easy access highway. It has toll booths on several stretches that will lead you to the beauties of the mountainous region.
Other options of accessing Petrópolis from Rio de Janeiro is to take the Av. Brazil to the Lions Club Plaza, then take the intersection with BR-040 - Washington Luiz Highway. Continue along this route towards Petrópolis.
The total travel distance is approximately of 41 miles

From São Paulo

Petrópolis is located approximately at 288 miles from São Paulo.
To reach Petrópolis, head towards the Rio de Janeiro Presidente Dutra highway. This highway has toll booths on several stretches.
Continue towards the access to the Red Line - Highway President Joao Goulart - and keep to the right. Take the exit at the BR-040 - Rodovia Washington Luiz - and enter the city of Petrópolis. This highway also has toll booths on several stretches.

Where to Stay

As Petrópolis is a city that receives dozens of visitors every day, there are several housing options. Among luxury hotels, hostels, and historic hotels, there are various accommodations for all types of budgets.




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      Author: Laryssa Balduino. Last updated: Jun 11, 2015

      Pictures of Petrópolis

      Cachoeira Véu da Noiva - Petrópolis
      Cachoeira Véu da Noiva - Petrópolis. Photo by Jéssica Flores

      Catedral de Petrópolis - Petrópolis
      Catedral de Petrópolis - Photo by Rodrigo Soldon

      Palácio de Cristal (Petrópolis) - Petrópolis
      Palácio de Cristal (Petrópolis) - Photo by Rodrigo Soldon


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