Curitiba is the modernized, forward thinking capital of Parana in the southeastern country of Brazil. Initially inhabited by the Tinqui Indians, European immigrants, comprised of Germans, Italians, Poles, Ukrainians, and later Asians, arrived to the country in the middle of the 1800’s. The economy of the 19th century was based on gold mining and cattle, but today the city is the cultural, economic and political hub of Brazil.
In the 70’s, numerous acres of wasteland collected floodwater from the 6 rivers and streams that cross through Curitiba. Developers successfully renovated these areas into 26 separate parks that contain lakes and ponds for flood containment and provide ecological preservation. Besides the water features that are popular destinations for water sports, the parks have forests, gardens, historic buildings, monuments, museums, sports facilities and zoos. Many of the parks commemorate the history of the Tinqui and the early settlers with nationalities being represented at specific locations.
The German Woods, for example, is comprised of forested regions where a children’s library and a Grimm brothers fairy tale is represented in colorful buildings along cobblestone paths. Japan Park contains oriental architecture, colorful gardens, cherry trees and water features. The city’s Botanical Gardens contain acres of native plants, shrubs and trees. A spectacular green house constructed of glass and iron is reminiscent of the Glass Palace in London. The site also houses a botanical museum and a cultural center. An arboretum produces plants and trees for decoration throughout the city and parks in addition to providing products to local citizens.
Curitiba’s unique trash collection system encourages citizens to recycle by offering food and transportation vouchers in exchange for reusable waste. Recycling plants provide much needed jobs and consumer products. The transportation system is designed around the habits of the passengers and routes are programmed according to frequent use, including shopping areas or locations of public activity and facilities. The effectiveness of the system has caused a decline in the use of automobiles by almost one third, though auto manufacturing is a major industry in Curitiba. There are designated streets in the city that only allow pedestrians and buses.
The Rua des Flores is strictly confined to pedestrian use and contains the majority of the city’s stores, though there are 6 sizable malls in Curitiba. The Setor Historio is the oldest part of the city, containing 18th and 19th century buildings, cathedrals, cultural centers and museums including the Igreja da Ordem, a church that dates back to the early 1700’s and houses a museum of sacred art. The Santa Felicidade is the street where restaurants from native, European and Asian cultures are located.
Modern design in Curitiba includes the beautiful Opera de Arame, which is constructed of steel and glass and landscaped with native plants and water features. The Oscar Neimeyer Museum is in an usual eye shaped structure designed by the Brazilian architect and contains his artwork along with exhibitions by other artists. The Rua 24 Horas is a 120 meter street covered in an arched tubular structure that houses dozens of shops and all are open 24 hours a day.
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