Today we spent a full day in Petrópolis, also known as the Imperial City of Brazil. It is 68 kms away from Rio de Janeiro and by bus it took us around 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Since we are still waiting for our car we opted for a guided tour that included the bus trip plus the tickets for some of the museums and places we've visited during the day. This was almost the first time we did a tour since we always prefer to organize visits and walks by ourselves (freedom and fun is all for us!). In the end we concluded something we already knew: tours are simply not for us!
But independently of visiting with or without a guided tour, here are our 5 favorite things we saw in Petrópolis:
1. Imperial Palace, the main attraction of Petrópolis and one of the most visited museums in Brazil. It was the summer residence of the Imperial family until 1889 (when they were forced to exile and left Brazil to Europe). Neoclassical style and surprisingly furnished so we could understand better how the Imperial family lived in the 19th century. And since we are Portuguese it was incredible to see "the other side" of History and how real family in Portugal and Brazil was connected.
2. Santos Dumont's House ("The Enchanted") - This place is tied with the Imperial Palace. We simply loved this "enchanted" house designed in 1918 by the strict instructions of Alberto Santos Dumont, who Brazilians claim was the first man to fly an aeroplane. This house is just one example of Dumont's genius and it is full of details of his life, work and studies. We've just discovered that it was him that suggested to Louis Cartier, a french watchmaker, to design a watch he could use during his flights and it was because of him that wristwatches were created.
3. Koeler Avenue, a street full of lined mansions built by the aristocracy in the 19th century. Houses are beautiful here with several styles, gardens and colors and it's a pleasure to walk through this avenue and admire all of them.
4. Quitandinha - This place was only built in 1944 and the goal was to be the largest casino in South America. The exterior is in the Norman-French style, while the interior is a mix of Brazilian Baroque and Art Deco and completely modern (it was decorated by Dorothy Draper). Inside is huge and colorful and we were lucky to see 2 temporary exhibitions: one about Africa and another one about Lan, a well-known Brazilian illustrator.
5. St. Peter of Alcantara Cathedral - Although the construction was initiated in 1884 it was only completed in 1925. Originally it was built to protect the Imperial family since St. Peter of Alcantara was the Portuguese saint that protected the monarchy.