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Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Last modified: 2012-04-07 by ian macdonald
Keywords: rio de janeiro | petropolis | coat of arms | crown | cypher | eagle (displayed | black) |
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Petrópolis, RJ (Brazil) image by André Pires Godinho

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About the Flag of Petrópolis

Petrópolis was the imperial residential city outside Rio de Janeiro, located in the Mountain Region of Rio de Janeiro state. The coat of arms records the monarchical tradition of the city: the imperial crown and the monogram P II, for Pedro II, second Emperor of Brazil). Petrópolis was the favorite city of this emperor. His imperial crown is there in the Brazilian Imperial Museum. The eagle represents Germany and Austria, from which settlers came to Petropolis, because the temperate climate was similar to their homelands. The motto on the coat of arms is Altiora semper petens.
Area: 774.6 sq km
Population: 286, 348 (2001)
Source: Municipal Chamber of Petrópolis.
André Pires Godinho, 8 February 2003

The municipality of Petrópolis (296,044 inhabitants in 2011; 775 sq. km) is located in the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Area, 70 km of Rio de Janeiro. The municipality is made of the town of Petrópolis proper and of the districts of Cascatinha, Itaipava, Pedro de Rio and Posse.

Petrópolis is located in the Estrela Range, on the New Causeway ("Caminho Novo") used to transport gold and ore extracted to Minas Gerais to Rio de Janeiro. In the 19th century, the biggest local landowner was Father Antônio Tomás de Aquino Correia (1759-1824), whose colonial residence and chapel are among the oldest remains of the colonial period in Petrópolis. Correia invited several times Emperor Peter I (1798-1834, Emperor, 1822-1831) to oversummer in his estate. Enjoying the exuberant vegetation and the mild climate. Peter I decided to build there a summer residence where he would welcome his European guests not familiar with the Rio de Janeiro tropical warmth. The Emperor purchased in 1830 from Sergeant José Vieira Afonso the neighbouring estate of Córrego Seco. In the difficult context of the times, the Emperor renamed the estate Concórdia ("Concord") and appointed the Royal architect Pedro José Pezerat and the French engineer Pierre Taulois to build the Concord Palace, expected to symbolize the harmony between the country and the Emperor. The project was not completed since Peter I abdicated on 7 April 1831 and went back to Portugal. In 1834, Emperor Peter II inherited the Concord estate and appointed the Imperial Majordomo Paulo Barbosa da Silva (1790-1868) to resume his father's project. Barbosa commissioned the German architect Júlio Frederico Köeler (1804-1847) to design the "Petrópolis settlement- palace"; Imperial Decree No. 155 of 16 March 1843 officially launched the Petrópolis project. The shares of the "Companhia de Petrópolis", founded in January 1845, were sold at the stock exchange in the next four months, while the first German colonists settled the place on 29 June 1845. The municipality of Petrópolis was established in 1857; the settlement was made a "cidade" without having ever been a "vila", which happened for the first time in Brazilian history. The Emperor used to stay in Petrópolis from November to May, except during the Paraguayan War . The oversummering of the Imperial court boosted the development of the town, highly prized by the aristocrats, traders, politicians, diplomats and intellectuals supporting the Empire, who built cosy manors. Hotels were built to cater the summer tourists, such as the famous "Hotel Bragança" (with 92 rooms, lounges, a ballroom and a theatre), "Hotel Suíço" (the colonists' meeting place), "Hotel Europa" (where Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico, stayed in 1848) and "Hotel Orléans" (today the seat of the Petrópolis Catholic University). Petrópolis developed as the main cloth producing center in Brazil, with famous companies such as the "São Pedro de Alcântara Imperial Factory", the "Petropolitana Company", "Aurora", "Werner", "Santa Helena", "Dona Isabel" and "Cometa". In 1889, Peter II was notified in Petrópolis the proclamation of the Republic and his exile. This caused little change in the town but the renaming of several streets. From 1894 to 1902, Petrópolis was the capital of the Rio de Janeiro State, transferred from Niterói following the uprising against Marshal Floriano Peixoto. During this period, the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs was mostly established in Petrópolis, where the treaty incorporating Acre to Brazil was signed. Afterwards, Petrópolis remained a favoured oversummering place, especially when Rio de Janeiro was hit by epidemics of yellow fever. Once the summer capital of the Empire, the town turned to the summer capital of the Republic, welcoming the Presidents of the Republic, who stayed at the Rio Negro Palace from 1903 to 1969 and since 1997, and celebrities such as the Baron of Rio Branco, Santos Dumont ("The Father of Aviation") and Stefan Zweig. During the Estado Novo regime, President Getúlio Vargas recreated a kind of Imperial town, founding the Imperial Museum and the Emperors' Mausoleum. The new "Imperial court" attracted famous visitors such as Orson Welles and Errol Flynn, who stayed at the wealthy Hotel Quitandinha. The transfer of the Federal capital to Brasília in 1961 transformed Petrópolis into a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. Anarchic urbanization threatened the heritage of the town, which was, fortunately, labelled "Imperial Town" in 1981, which conferred protection to the historical downtown.

A photo taken during the "Bauernfest" (German for Farmers' Festival) shows the municipal flag hoisted in the background, and a logo flag used in the cortege.

The coat of arms of Petrópolis, imagined by Guilherme de Almeida and designed by Wasat Rodrigues, is prescribed by Municipal Law No. 224 of 8 January 1929. The coat of arms is a Portuguese shield , "Azure the monogram "PII" or ensigned with an Imperial Crown of the same, grafted in base or a German eagle sable and gules. The shield surmounted by a five-towered mural crown argent. The shield surrounded by rails and their ties proper wrapped in a scroll azure inscribed in letters or 'ALTIORA SEMPRE PETENS' ". The Portuguese shield is a tribute to the discoverers of Brazil. The crown and the monogram are a tribute to the founder of the town.

Ivan Sache, 12 March 2012