Porto Alegre City Guide

An introduction to the city of Porto Alegre


In the southern most Brazilian state, the State of Rio Grande do Sul, lays its capital Porto Alegre, which is Portuguese, meaning “Joyous Haven”. Located on the eastern shores of the Guaiba Lake, at an approximate aptitude of 10 meters above sea level, surrounded by five rivers, many hills subtropical forests and the Southern Brazilian grasslands, this city is known by its unique combined European heritage, historically significant architecture and numerous cultural offerings.


In the year of 1752, sixty Azorean couples settled the area, due to the Treaty of Madrid, when this location was handed over to the Portuguese Crown in exchange for the Sacramento Colony. The city was founded by Manuel Sepúlveda on 26th March in the year of 1772, from which dated its first name. After one year, this city was renamed to Porto Alegre, but Azoreans renamed it to Porto de Viamão. The administration of Manuel Sepúlveda, Portuguese military and colonial administrator, officially began their rule on 24th July in the year of 1773, thus Porto Alegre became the capital city of the province. In the year of 1824, the cultural image of Porto Alegre was significantly enriched, due to massive immigrations of German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Jewish, and Lebanese origin.

The era of revolutions began eleven years later, starting with the most significant national conflict of the Brazilian Empire, known as Farrapos War. Followed by the examples of the neighboring events, a revolution for Rio Grande do Sul region’s independence broke out in the year of 1835 and lasted for 10 years, ending with an outcome of the signed peace treaty, where the Republica Riograndense was returned to Brazil as its regional part.

The second revolution was the Federalist Revolution, which started in the year of 1893 and ended two years later. It resulted in accomplishing its initial goals, which were decentralization of powers and the recognition of the greater autonomy for the states. The third revolution was sparked by the widespread fraud in the elections that were held on March in the year of 1930, and the assassination of vice-presidential candidate, João Pessoa.

After six months of preparations, the revolution started on 3rd October, under the leadership of Lieutenant-Colonel Góes Monteiro and Getúlio Vargas. On 24th October, in order to avoid civil war, Cardinal Leme of Rio de Janeiro intervened and convinced president Washington Luis to accept his inevitable overthrow. Getúlio Vargas has provisionally assumed the presidency on 4th November, but his rule has been extended for another 15 years, during which he has radically transformed Brazil.

By hosting World University Games, which were held there on the year of 1963, the city became famous throughout the world. Due to the frequent frauds in the elections, in the year of 1985 citizens of Porto Alegre have joined the “Movement For Free Elections”, thus resulting in huge demonstrations throughout the city.

General facts

Porto Alegre is spread all over the area of 496.827 km2. This city enjoys a humid subtropical climate, with an average temperature below 20°C during winter season and above 28°C during summer season. Situated in between northeastern industrial part of the state and the southern rural part, the city’s economy is mostly based on services.

The locals from Rio Grande do Sul state are known as the gaúchos. Porto Alegre is known for its significant varieties, which is reflected in many types of appearances, dozens of ethnic groups, several religions and languages. This city is also a birthplace of the famous Brazilian barbecue.


One of the most remarkable landmarks in Porto Alegre is Santa Casa de Misericordia Hospital, or “Hospital of Mercy”. This magnificent building has gained its name from the mercy shown through medical and social assistance to numerous slaves, poor people and criminals. The Hospital of Mercy was built in the year of 1803, but the first nurseries were opened in the year of 1826.

Inside of this majestic building is situated a little chapel named Nosso Senhor dos Passos, which was built within first decades of the 19th century. With a numerous contributions in several fields of medicine, this hospital is mostly focused on research, teaching and providing therapies. Another remarkable city’s landmark is the Beneficiencia Portuguesa Hospital, which is located on the Independence Avenue.

The first foundations of this great hospital were placed in 29th June in the year of 1867, but it was opened three years later, in 29th June of the year of 1870. Although the city was not financially capable of building it, the project was completed with the assistance of fundraising events, such as donations, concerts and auctions. Many citizens of Porto Alegre drew their first breath in this hospital. Museum of History of Rio Grande do Sul’s Medicine was opened inside the old part of this hospital in the year of 2007. Situated on the corner of the Riachuelo Street and the Doctor Flores Street, lays another extraordinary landmark, named Rocco Confectionery. It was built within the first decades of the 20th century, for Italian confectioner Nicolau Rocco.

The exterior of the building is decorated with enormous pillars and well shaped sculptures on the many balconies. Many various events, such as receptions and festivities, were held there for an enlightened society. Built in the year of 1858, São Pedro Theater is the oldest of its kind in the city. Projected by Felipe de Normann, in the mixture of baroque architecture and golden and velvety decorations, this structure represents a remarkably lavish landmark. Another unique landmark in Porto Alegre is A Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana.

This historically significant building was built within the first half of the 20th century as a hotel. It was closed in the year of 1980 and bought by the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Three years later, it was recognized as a historical heritage site and became the Mario Quintana Cultural Center. This building features many spaces for cultural and public purposes, with a lot of rooms included.

General specifications

According to census in the year of 2010, city population in Porto Alegre is estimated to 1.509.939 inhabitants, metropolis area population is estimated to 4.405.769 inhabitants, with density of 3030 people per square kilometer. Porto Alegre population literacy level is estimated to 97%. Porto Alegre consists of 16 districts. The city’s food industry is mostly based on production of soybeans, leather, canned beef and rice, avocados, cashews, tobacco, wheat and grapes. Other industries include shipbuilding, manufacturing of textiles and production of perfume, chemicals, metallurgic goods, communications and electrical equipment, plastics, beer and pharmaceuticals.


Prices in Porto Alegre are evaluated as average, while prices on groceries vary from moderate low to average, depending on the location, while prices on rents, clothing and shoes are evaluated as very high.

Places to go

Besides its noticeable high standard of living, Porto Alegre has numerous attractions, such as organized river boat trips around the port, a remarkable ride on the Linha Turismo sightseeing bus, visiting Porto Alegre Zoo, taking a walk along an amazing Japanese Shiga square and many others. One of the most amazing things about Porto Alegre is the cuisine, from which is an extraordinary set of grilled meat named churrasco.