“Brazilian Switzerland” turns 200 years old

About two hours by car from the capital, we arrived at Nova Friburgo, a mountain town in Rio, which since 2017 has officially won the title of “Brazilian Switzerland”. According to historians, around 260 Swiss families, coming from the canton of Friborg (reason for the name of the municipality) were the colonizers of the place.

Attracted by D. João VI, Emperor of Brazil, they came to populate the mountains. This immigration is celebrating 200 years. In the late 1970s there was a rapprochement with the European country, with the emergence of the Association Friborg-Nova Friburgo (AFNF) in Switzerland and its Brazilian partner, the Association Nova Friburgo-Friborg (ANFF).

Together they encouraged exchanges, cooperation between countries and stimulation of traditions. On the Teresopolis-Friburgo road, at the height of kilometer 18, we spot the House of Switzerland, one of the main attractions for its typical architecture and for housing a real tourist complex.

On the outside there is a statue of William Tell, the greatest Swiss hero. Inside, besides a cultural center with an auditorium, a library with copies of Swiss literature, art galleries, a Vatican Swiss Guard showroom, a souvenir boutique, the Alpendorf craft brewery (one of many local brands), there are also the Memorial of Colonization, the Cheese Shop School and the Chocolate Shop.

At the Memorial, a permanent exhibition presents the life of the settlers with rich details and documents. A multimedia system allows historical access to the first immigrants and the European country as it is today. At the Cheese Shop School and the Chocolate Shop, the Swiss art of making cheese and milk chocolate is widespread.

Going through the city we see the influence of immigration. In the region known as Amparo, we find the Auberge Suisse, a hostel and restaurant founded by a Swiss couple, which maintains the homeland climate in the themed environment and cuisine. In the center of town, at Praça do Suspiro, attention turns to the cable car. There are two stages. In the first, there are bowling, children’s playground, restaurant and gazebo. In the second, there is the top of Morro da Cruz, with over 1,300 meters.

Nova Friburgo also reveals to the visitor many sights, a bucolic climate and the exuberant nature of places like Lumiar and São Pedro da Serra.

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