A signature site of the city, the Curitiba Botanical Garden combines serene greenery with stunning architecture. The gardens were created in the style of the French royal gardens, but feature Brazil’s tropical flora and fauna. The centerpiece is an art nouveau-style greenhouse, made of metal and glass, with three towers that overlook the city. Considered one of the most impressive botanical gardens in Latin America, the Curitiba Botanical Garden is home to rare plants and flowers, manicured hedges, statues and fountains, leaving visitors with plenty to explore and take in. These peaceful grounds serve as a retreat from the busy metropolis of Curitiba for locals and tourists alike.
The site is also a renowned research center and home to the Botanic Museum, which serves as a reference for categorizing Brazil’s native plants and welcomes scientists from around the world.
Inaugurated in 1980, shortly after Pope John Paul II’s visit to Curitiba, the sprawling Pope's Woods are made up of 515,000 square feet (48,000 square meters) of native vegetation. The area is home to the outdoor Polish Immigration Memorial, a statue of the pope and a monument honoring famous Polish mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
Near the memorial are seven original Polish houses, built around 1878 during the start of the Polish colonization of the region and later reassembled here in Pope’s Woods. Visitors can admire the mastery of the builders, who carefully sculpted the pine logs to fit perfectly together. The most prominent house was transformed into a chapel in honor of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, patroness of Poland. In the other houses are furniture and utensils used during the first Polish immigration wave in the late 1870s.
Located in the middle of Curitiba’s Historic District, Garibaldi Square is a must-see for travelers. In addition to the grand Garibaldi Palace (Palacio Garibaldi), three churches, a fountain and a flower clock, the streets surrounding the square are lined with art galleries, antique stores and lively bars.
Perhaps the most imposing building in the square, Garibaldi Palace’s construction began in 1887 and took 17 years to complete. It was originally created as a meeting space for Italian immigrants living in Curitiba. Although still the headquarters of the Garibaldi Society, the space now is used for weddings and events. The square also has one of the few flower clocks in the world that, according to officials, always shows the correct time. A gift from the city’s jewelers, the clock is 26 feet (eight meters) long with fiberglass hour and minute hands and is greatly admired. The clock is said to be off by 30 seconds each year at most and runs on battery-powered quartz.
The Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) is the oldest educational institution in Brazil, dating back to 1912. Mainly made up of a single 17,000-square-meter neo-classical building, the school occupies an entire block of Curitiba’s town center on one end of Praça Santos Andrade. What started out as a private institution in the early 1900s became a federal, tuition-free university in 1950. The university has since incorporated several buildings throughout Curitiba to house its students and classes, while also having units in the cities of Palotina and Matinhos. The university is one of Curitiba's most photographed buildings come nightfall thanks to its lighting and grand appearance. Visitors are warned, however, that Santos Andrade Square is not the safest area to explore alone on foot at night.