Of all the 12 cities hosting the 2014 World Cup, Porto Alegre is the southernmost city in Brazil. Travelers heading down to the state of Rio Grande do Sul are recommended to pack warm coats and extra layers because unlike northern Brazil, the winter weather in Porto Alegre is usually between 44° and 55°F. Undoubtedly, the weather will not take away from the countless activities Porto Alegre has to offer both soccer fans and world travelers alike. Visitors should know that the citys offers great urban parks, wine tasting tours, cultural centers, delicious food and exhibits that feature some of the most important pieces of art in Brazil.
Porto Alegre, The City with Multiculturalism.
In the 19th century, Porto Alegre had a large influx of immigrants; the majority of which came from Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Africa and Lebanon. The immigrants that settled helped the city flourish as a melting pot of cultures. As a result, Porto Alegre has grown to become a diverse cosmopolitan city with over 1.5 million inhabitants known as Porto-Alegrenses. The city’s gastronomy and architecture is a mixture of Brazilian traditions infused with influences from different countries.
Urban Green Parks
Porto-Alegrenses live a very active lifestyle, and therefore, there are plenty of urban parks that visitors will appreciate along with the locals. Park Farroupilha (Parque Farroupilha), also known as Redenção, is one of the biggest parks with 92 acres of green space. During the weekends in Park Farroupilha, visitors should attend the fresh products market on Saturdays and on Sundays, visit the Brique, Port Alegre’s oldest street fair. Soccer fanatics inspired by the World Cup games can head over to the Marinha do Brasil. There there are plenty of soccer, tennis and basketball courts.. Located in a wealthy neighborhood of Porto Alegre, Moinhos do Vento Park (Parque Moinhos do Vento), or Paraco, it is another park where visitors can retreat from the World Cup games to play sports and take boat rides on lake.. At the end of the day, join locals in soaking in the beauty of Porto Alegre, and marvel over the gorgeous sunset on Lake Guaíba (Lago Guaíba).
Port Alegre’s Cultural Center Mario Quintana (Centro Cultural Mario Quintana) is located in an old hotel that was once the home of the great Brazilian poet Quintana in the 20th century. Mario Quintana is responsible for the Portuguese versions of over 130 significant international works of literature, and his poetry reflects the everyday life of residents in Porto Alegre. The renovated hotel now houses both permanent and temporary art exhibits for the public to observe.
The Museum of Art in Rio Grande do Sul (MARGS) is another intriguing cultural center for travelers to better explore important art collections of Brazilian artists. In 1913, German architect Theo Wiederspah originally designed the building as a police station, but in 1978 it was reopened as MARGS.
In the Praça da Matriz Square, visitors can find the gorgeous Metropolitan Cathedral designed by the Italian architect Joao Batista Giovenale of the São Lucas Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. The Metropolitan Cathedral is grand in size, and the Jesuit missions that took place in the city at that time inspire the designs of the towers. Guests should also go sightsee at the fascinating Museu da Fundação Iberê Camargo. This museum features modern and contemporary art, and the building itself is an avant-garde architectural structure designed by Alvaro Siza.
It will be winter in Porto Alegre when the city hosts the World Cup games, but visitors should keep in mind that it is the perfect time for wine tasting. Brazil is known for its fine-quality sparkling wine. Travelers should tour around Bento Gonçalves, a hot location for some of the biggest wineries. In addition this area, the Valley of the Vines (Vale dos Vinhhedos) — in southern region of the Gaúcha Mountain Range (Serra Gaúcha) — is guaranteed to be another memorable wine tasting experience for wine connoisseurs. The land, where the Valley of the Vines winery is now located, was originally taken over by the Italian immigrants who arrived in Brazil to escape poverty. After years of maintaining the vineyard, the land now produces over 800,000 bottles of wine a year.
Due to the mix of cultures in Porto Alegre, there are different food traditions brought over from other countries that have been infused into traditional Brazilian foods. For instance, Cuca is a kind of bread eaten by the locals that was originally brought over by German immigrants who settled in Porto Alegre. Locals eat the bread with fruits, chocolate and/or crème, which makes it the perfect cake to have with coffee.
Porto Alegre is known to have some of the best churrascarias (Brazilian Steakhouses) in the country. Traditional Brazilian churrasco (BBQ) consist of various different meats placed on skewers and barbecued to perfection. In most cities in Brazil, the meats are cooked on charcoal, but in Porto Alegre and other southern cities it is customary to use embers of wood to give the meats a smoky and tender taste.
In addition to churrasco, a specialty in the south to indulge in is Chimarrão, a caffeine-infused Mate tea. The green-colored tea is served in a gourd and is sipped out using a metal straw. This is the ideal drink to warm up during a cold winter day in Porto Alegre.
Brigadeiro is a traditional Brazilian chocolate dessert that looks like a chocolate truffle, and it is a mixture of chocolate and condensed milk, topped with candy — and Porto Alegre is a great place to try these. Visitors should also taste a traditional local dish called Ambrosia, a creamy dessert made of milk, eggs, sugar and cinnamon. Another native dessert to try is Sagu, which is made of tapioca balls filled with red wine and spices.
After a day full of fun, join the locals in drinking a cold draft beer — (which Brazilians call “chope”) — in the l(Cidade Baixa neighborhood. This bohemian neighborhood has the largest offerings of bars, and locals often go dancing in this area at night. Travelers looking for an upscale nightlife experience should wander over to the Moinhos de Vento neighborhood, where there are several of quality restaurants and nightclubs.
From its delicious food to its amazing tourist attractions to its diverse cultures, there’s something for every type of traveler in Porto Alegre.
– By The Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur)
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