The city of Petrópolis (also known as the Imperial City) was founded upon royal opulence and wealth, and this is reflected in the lavish design of the city’s Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal). The ornate iron-and-glass structure was originally used as a hothouse for growing orchids and is now a venue for various cultural events.
Built in France and transported to the hills outside of Rio, the palace was initially offered as a gift from Count D’Eu to Princess Izabel. For years this venue was used to host extravagant royal balls, and there are still concerts and opera performances held in the palace today. If you’re staying in Petrópolis, check the schedule of events to experience one of the shows. Or, if you’re visiting on a day trip from Rio de Janeiro, simply explore the manicured grounds around the historic greenhouse.
Private and group day trips to Petrópolis from Rio de Janeiro typically visit the Crystal Palace as well as the Imperial Museum, St. Peter of Alcantara Cathedral, and Cervejaria Bohemia, where you can sample some Bohemia Pilsen, the first beer made in Brazil.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Crystal Palace is a must-visit for those with an interest in Brazil’s imperial history.
- Admission to the Crystal Palace is free, although there may be a fee to attend special events.
- The architecture was inspired by London’s Crystal Palace, built in 1851.
- You can get information about special events from the visitor’s center on Liberty Square.
How to Get There
Petrópolis is a 2-hour drive from Rio de Janeiro. Crystal Palace is located north of the city center, on the western banks of the Piabanha River. It’s less than a 10-minute walk from other notable city attractions, such as Cervejaria Bohemia and the Imperial Museum. If you don’t have a car, the easiest way to get there is with a guided tour.
When to Get There
The palace and its surrounding gardens are a hive of activity during events held throughout the year. Check the calendar to find out when live music performances and art exhibitions are scheduled. One of the biggest events is June’s Bauernfest, which celebrates the city’s German heritage with traditional food, craft beers, and folkloric dance performances.
Though the palace’s ornate architecture and dazzling grand chandelier are major draws, the surrounding gardens are equally alluring. The manicured lawns are framed by tall trees and embellished with groomed hedges. Two fountains shoot water into pools and the spray is welcome on a hot day—it’s the perfect place to rest, cool off, and soak up your surroundings.