Bosque de Portugal, the Hidden Garden which Pays Tribute to Curitiba’s Portuguese Legacy

Bosque de Portugal's yellow-colored pillars

photography by: Omri Westmark

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Despite over two centuries of independence, the cultural bond between Brazil and its former colonial master, Portugal, is persistently strong. One testament among many is the aptly named Bosque de Portugal (Portugal Woods), a forested enclave in the city of Curitiba, where dozens of tiled pillars provide a glimpse into the countries' famed poetry.

Separated by the blue vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil and Portugal have a shared history and language, reflecting more than 300 years of Portuguese colonial rule. In 1994, the municipality of Curitiba decided to celebrate the centuries old friendship between the two countries by creating a 2-hectare garden in the city’s Jardim Social neighborhood, dedicated entirely to illustrious Portuguese and Brazilian poets.


Inaugurated by the then president of Portugal, Mário Soares, Bosque de Portugal, as its Portuguese name suggests (forest of Portugal), is a sliver of wooded area along the Rio Tarumã, a small stream that runs through the neighborhoods of Bairro Alto, Bacacheri and Tarumã. This speck of pristine nature is also home to the park’s main feature, a series of 22 yellow-hued pillars that strung out along a winding path that runs parallel to the creek.


Each of the amber-colored columns is embellished with a panel made of 9 or 15 traditional azulejos, which in turn are inscribed with verses of well-renowned Portuguese poems, written by Gregório de Matos, Luís de Camões and Castro Alves, just to name a few. In case you don’t speak Portuguese and find it difficult to understand the epic text, it is always possible to use Google Translate’s camera mode.


While during your visit, no professional crooners are expected to sing the melody of the engraved poems, the park’s tree canopies serve as habitat to a couple of singing bird species, most notably house wrens, true thrushes and Andean sparrows.


Bosque de Portugal also encompasses a wide plaza, covered by the iconic black and white calçada, whose wavy pattern pays a homage to the long journeys made by Portuguese sailors across the world’s oceans. Linked to the main forested area by a pair of wooden bridges, the plaza is dotted with 8 yellow pillars, each of which represents a Portuguese speaking country. Originally, only seven nations were honored with their own column, with East Timor being the eighth country after gaining its independence from Indonesia in 2002.