Always welcoming foreigners with open arms, Brazil has received over the past two centuries millions of immigrants from various nationalities. Among them Italian, Japanese, Arab, African, Chinese immigrants and many others. German and Finnish as well, who settled here and founded cities that are small portions of their countries in tropical lands.
Blumenau, in Santa Catarina, hosts the German Oktoberfest, and Penedo, in Rio de Janeiro, is the only Finnish colony in the Country. The two cities are witnesses that in the Brazilian heart there is room for many other accents.
Below is a suggested programming for spending a day in each city, but there are many other attractions to visit in the two destinations, of course.
Pay attention: Blumenau is about 880 km from Penedo and you should keep in mind that, depending on the means of transportation chosen, it can take a whole day to go from one to the other.
When they came to Brazil in the mid-19th century, fleeing the crisis in their country, the Germans settled mostly in the Southern region. The cold climate and the mountains helped them to better acclimatize to our tropical country.
The Germans founded several cities, such as São Leopoldo, in Rio Grande do Sul, and São Pedro de Alcântara and Blumenau, in Santa Catarina. And the latter became a small portion of Germany in Brazilian lands.
Located 150 km from Florianópolis, the capital of the State, Blumenau annually hosts the Oktoberfest, the greatest German feast outside the borders of the country. During the festival, German tradition, folklore and culture are celebrated, in an event for over 500,000 people. On the menu of the nearly three weeks of festivities there is no shortage of bratwurst, sauerkraut, potato salad, dark mustard, strudel and, of course, plenty of beer and joy.
The Oktoberfest is held at Parque da Vila Germânica that, with its architecture inspired in Bavaria, collaborates to create an environment that is typically German. The feast, however, does not occur at the event pavilion only. It also happens on the XV de Novembro Street, which becomes crowded in the days of fanfare orchestras and folk groups parades.
However, the German presence in the region is not restricted to the month of October. Next to Blumenau is the Itoupava Village, an agricultural colony that still preserves both customs and traditions and the Germanic language. On the location, you can taste dishes such as stuffed mallard, typical cakes and canned goods, which bring some of the European country to the Brazilian palate.
If Blumenau is Germany in Brazil, Penedo is our Finland. Located in the mountainous portion of the State of Rio de Janeiro, near the State of São Paulo, the municipality was founded in 1929 and is the only Finnish colony in the Country.
At the small shopping center Pequena Finlândia, built as a Bavarian village, is one of the best known attractions of the city, Casa do Papai Noel (Santa Claus’ House). Inspired by Nordic architecture, it is made in solid wood and has rustic furniture. And Santa can be found there on weekends, during the whole year, for the delight of children.
The Finnish presence is also felt in other localities, like Clube Finlândia, which stages monthly presentations of typical dances. Those who feel up to it can learn the steps of rhythms such as polka, the waltz and mazurka. And those who like to read will love the library with more than 10000 books in several languages, many of them telling the story of this European country.
To end with a sweet note, nothing better than a visit to Casa do Chocolate (The House of Chocolate). The delicacy, homemade, is used in many recipes, like fondue, ice cream and sachertorte, made also with damascus and rum. In addition to tasting so many treats, at Casa do Chocolate you can also monitor the entire manufacturing process.
At the end of the trip, a certainty: visiting destinations such as Blumenau and Penedo is picking up new pieces of this great and beautiful puzzle that is Brazil.