Fritz Müller and Urban Planning
1 de April de 2022

The significance of Fritz Müller

Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ (1859) stands as one of the most influential books in history. Remarkably, this publication holds a strong connection with Brazil. The author conducted a scientific expedition to our country, documenting various fauna species from Brazil. Furthermore, the naturalist Fritz Müller played a pioneering role in championing Darwin’s theory, using biological observations from Brazil. Müller’s work is cited more than a dozen times in the sixth edition of Darwin’s book*.

Fritz Müller, originally German but later a naturalized Brazilian, resided in Brazil during the 19th century. He corresponded with a network of scientists, including Darwin, sharing his findings. Müller received recognition, earning the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Bonn (1868) and the University of Tübingen (1874) in Germany. In Brazil, he was similarly honored by the Federal University of Santa Catarina (2009) and the Regional University of Blumenau (2014).


Botanical Expedition

In April and June of 1868, Fritz Müller embarked on an extensive botanical expedition, commencing in Blumenau and culminating at Boa Vista Hill (now part of Rancho Queimado). True to his custom, he journeyed barefoot, keenly observing nature and meticulously documenting his travels.

Charles Darwin aptly dubbed him the “Prince of Observers.” Fritz Müller lived up to this epithet, making astute observations during his trip. Notably, he deduced that the treeless nature of Boa Vista’s ‘campo’ (grassy field) wasn’t due to its elevation, as he could see even taller, densely wooded mountains from there. Instead, he posited that the trees failed to flourish due to the nearly horizontal sandstone layers, thinly covered by soil**.

Müller’s descriptions remain so precise that one can still identify certain locations on contemporary maps, even if the paths themselves have changed. He described them in terms of distance, incline, duration, and effort, providing insights into the landscape, vegetation, and soil.


Fritz Müller reports the steeply up path from Taquaras to Boa Vista, and describes the flat stretch in the second half of the ascent and the sandstone landscape.


Regional development

Walter Weingaertner, Humanität’s project manager, elucidates, “In many countries, the passage of a researcher with such scientific significance would serve as valuable information to stimulate regional development. We can utilize Humanität’s methodology to engage the local community and foster urban and regional planning projects. Our references and experiences with cultural and environmental routes in Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands have characteristics that could be adapted here.”


A Cultural and Environmental Route could be proposed to boost regional development. Lauro Bacca and Carolina Nunes walk along a stretch in Morro Chato, along the same path where Fritz Müller walked barefoot in May 1868.


These stories and characters form an authentic whole, forging bonds of unity among people and their homeland. In essence, they create a distinct sense of place, a stark contrast to places lacking identity.

Today, there is an abundance of tourist destinations designed for quick photo opportunities before moving on, contributing to the mass-reproduction of these spots in numerous cities. While this aligns with the contemporary Zeitgeist, it should never supersede the importance of genuine and meaningful places and narratives. Weingaertner asserts, ‘The region boasts rich landscapes and architecture. Tourists are always enchanted. I can only imagine the additional allure when we factor in the relevance of this scientist. This is a destination worth visiting,’ he concludes.

Ecologist and Professor Lauro Bacca has been researching Fritz Müller’s botanical expedition and explored the city of Rancho Queimado. Bacca was enthralled to read Müller’s original travelogue on-site and witness the striking resemblance between the landscape and the written account. According to Müller’s record, he traversed the old ‘Caminhos dos Tropeiros’ (Lageaner Straße) — an important route predating modern roads and streets, connecting the city of Lages to the coast. Some sections of this path still bear the marks of countless herds of cattle, as described by Fritz. Müller also chronicled the proximity of Morro Chato, where he first laid eyes on his final destination: Boa Vista.


Campos da Boa Vista from Morro Chato, a small vicinity from where Fritz Müller first saw his destination.



Kalvelage, H. A Vida e a Filosofia do cientista germânico-brasileiro Fritz Müller in: Anais da 58ª Reunião Anual da SBPC. Florianópolis, 2006. Available at:  
* Moraes, A.M.L. Fritz Müller, uma vida dedicada à ciência. Blumenau, Editora da Furb, 2014. Available at: 
Müller, F.; Möller, A. Fritz Müller, Werke, Briefe und Leben. Jena, Verlag von Gustav Fischer, 1915-1921. Available at: 
Steindel, M.; Weissheimer, M.G.; Marchetti, M. (organizadores) . Fritz Müller 200 anos: legado que ultrapassa fronteiras. Florianópolis, E-book, 2020. Available at:
** West, D.A. Fritz Müller, A naturalist in Brazil. Blacksburg, Pocahontas Press, 2003.

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