PETROPOLIS, a city of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in an elevated valley of the Serra de Estrella, 2634 ft. above sea-level and 27 m. N. of the city of Rio de Janeiro, with which it is connected by a combined railway and steamship line, and also by a longer railway line. Pop. of the municipality (1900), 20,331, a large percentage being summer residents, as the census was taken late in December; (1902, municipal census), 18,373. Petropolis is served by the Principe do Grao Par! railway, now a part of the Leopoldina system , which connects with Rio de Janeiro and Nictheroy on the coast, and with the station of Entre Rios on the Central of Brazil railway. Its altitude gives the city a cool invigorating climate, making it a favourite summer residence for the well-to-do classes of Rio. The rainfall is abundant, and especially so in summer (December to March) when the humidity is extreme. Vegetation is luxuriant and comprises a great variety of tropical and sub-tropical species. The city is built in a large, irregularly shaped basin formed by streams which converge to form the Piabanha river, a tributary of the Parahyba do Sul. Among the public buildings are the old imperial palace, a modern summer residence of the national executive and a municipal hall. Although Petropolis is not a commercial centre, its water-power and cool climate are making it an important manufacturing town. Among the products are cotton fabrics and garments, beer, and Camembert and Brie cheeses.
Petropolis was founded in 1845 by Julius Frederick Koler under the auspices of the emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II., on lands purchased by his father, Dom Pedro I., in 1822. The place was previously known as Corrego Secco, which Dr George Gardner described in 1837 as " a small, miserable village." The first emperor planned to establish there a German colony, but the plan was not realized until 1845, when about 2700 colonists from Germany were located there. Its growth was slow, but the choice of the place by the emperor as a summer residence drew thither many of the wealthy residents of the capital. The Maua railway was opened to the foot of the serra (Raiz da Serra) in 1854, and the macadamized road up the serra to the town in 1856. The mountain section of the railway, on the Riggenbach system, was completed in 1883. Petropolis has since become the summer residence of the diplomatic corps and of the higher officials of the Federal government, and was the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro from 1893 to 1903.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)