On the inland of Pernambuco, inside its driest area, there is a little city called Garanhuns. As the place is located at an altitude of 896 meters, and seven hills surround it, the weather can reach low temperatures during the winter period: the area has registered the historical minimum temperature of 9°C (which is not common in Brazil). Because of this dissonant climate difference among Garanhuns and other cities of the region where the average temperature is 30ºC, Garanhuns was named the "Switzerland of Pernambuco."
Because of its cool climate, Garanhuns is the perfect place for flower plantations: this is the reason why the city is also called the "city of flowers". Flowers and tourism are the two factors that keep the city's economy strong. In the past decade, the town started to invest in music festivals and holiday events: it now holds two of the most important festivals in the whole State: the Winter festival in July, and the Christmas party in December.
The clock is the 'main postcard' of Garanhuns. Plants and flowers have been forming it since 1979 when it was built at the Tavares Correia Square. In total, the clock measures four meters in diameter and is situated at the center of the square, surrounded by trees. The place attracts many tourists during the Winter Festival and the Christmas Party of Garanhuns.
The Castle was built by the local artisan João Capão, a simple man who had a dream to live in a castle with medieval features. He was an electrician and plumber, but also he proved to be a craftsman, as he built the Castle all by himself. He died before finishing it, in May 2016 at the age of 81. Today his family takes care of the place where a restaurant and a little shop with local handicrafts operate.
The place was built as a colonial architecture railway station, in the 19th century, and it was part of Pernambuco's rail network. After the decline of this kind of transportation in Brazil, during the second half of the 20th century, the place was abandoned entirely. In 1979, it was restored and transformed into the city's Cultural Center. The building also hosts the Luiz Souto Dourado Theater.
Famous for being one of the nicest spaces in Garanhuns, the Euclides Dourado Park, has a pleasant atmosphere. Surrounded by several eucalyptus trees, the area covers about eight hectares and holds a sports center and the Luiz Jardim municipal library. Recently, in 2019, the park received another touristic monument: a statue in honor of the famous singer, born in Garanhuns, José Domingos de Moraes Dominguinhos, who died in 2013.
Situated at the highest point of Garanhuns, one of the seven hills that surround the city, the Magano hill holds the Cristo do Magano Monument: this is one of the best tourist attractions you can see on this trip. It is located 1,030 meters above sea level, showing a four-meter-high image of Christ crucified. It was sculpted by the artist Renato Pantaleão in 1954. I would advise you to take a coat with you because the place gets very windy and is usually very cold.
I think after Carnival, the Garanhuns Winter Festival is the most famous - and, by the way, my favorite - party in Pernambuco. It is held annually in Garanhuns in July, and it gathers several tourists, who are raising the hotels' capacity to the maximum. During the festival, you can enjoy free shows, presentations, and other cultural events that take place in different centers around the city. The most famous entertainment sites are the Euclides Dourado park and the region around the Cultural Center.
Normally the festival mixes different languages and musical styles, bringing together international rock artists, Brazilian popular music, and even Blues and Jazz bands. Of course, regional music is never missing out. Remember that if you are planning to go to the festival, you should reserve a place to stay at least three months in advance.
The Christmas Party in Garanhuns is one of my favorite events of this kind in the whole world. The reason why I love this event is because of its size. In contrary to the similar events in Europe, this one happens all around the whole city. During December, at weekends, you can see a Santa Claus parade, cultural presentations, and shows around the city - and all these for free. One thing that I like about this party is how dedicated the citizens of Garanhuns are to the decoration - everything is made entirely by local artisans. If you are in Pernambuco during December, do not miss out on experiencing it!
Garanhuns is located almost at the end of the Agreste region (the arid region), not too far from the desert of the State. As it is not located near the main highway, the only public transport way to get there from Recife is by bus. The trip takes more or less 3 hours and a half and costs 40 reais (or so, 7 euros).
But if you want my advice, go in your own car to have more freedom and visit the city's landmarks. In the city, you will not find public transportation to bring you to these places. The road until there is quite good and well signed, which means you are going to reach it safely. If you go by car, the way is very easy: take the highway BR-232 and keep following the signs all the way to the city of Caruaru. After you pass this city, stay slow and you will see the signs leading to Garanhuns. You will take the exit to the road PE-423 and drive through it until you reach your destination.
I hope you enjoy your visit to Garanhuns, Pernambuco's Switzerland!
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