The city of São Paulo
Sao Paulo, popularly known as Sampa with its ever-burgeoning population of 19 million people, is the largest city in Brazil and the world’s seventh largest city by population. The city as the capital of the state of Sao Paulo exerts a strong economic influence on Brazil accounting for more than 60% of the country’s GDP. Culturally, Sao Paulo is a very productive, housing some of the best museums and art galleries in the country. On the contrast, the city lays out a table of endless nightlife options and fine dining venues that sets the city to dizzying heights of modernism.
Top 10 São Paulo Landmarks
Municipal Market (Mercado Municipal)
Built in typical Neo-Baroque style, the 1928 constructed Mercado Municipal is the city’s first and largest grocery market. After a major makeover in 2004, the market hall is the leading centre point for anything and everything related to food. There are hundreds of stands selling traditional snacks, vegetables, spices, snacks, cheeses and fish, some of which are local only to Brazil. Bustling at all times, this stained glass decorated market hall has a food section popular for their cafezinho and sandwiches.
Ibirapuera Park (Parque Ibirapuera)
Ibirapuera Park is the largest park in the city gathering over 22 million sq. ft. of green space under its cover. It hosts some of the best tourist highlights of the city including the Japanese Pavilion, Museum of Modern Art, the Planetarium, the Auditorium and many other cultural buildings. The panorama is simply spectacular with aquariums, lagoons and rich flora & fauna heightening the beauty of the park. A visit to the park can be de-stressing with opportunities for bicycling, pleasant walking, and outdoor games and picnicking.
Sao Paulo Museum of Art [Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo (MASP)]
There could not be a fitting place to display Brazilian art than the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo (MASP), located in the precincts of Ibirapuera Park. The museum’s collection features over 7,000 art pieces by distinguished artists such as Van Gogh, Renoir, Delacroix, Cézanne, Monet, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Degas. The centre is also an important junction to contemplate over European art. This two-storey building exhibits a permanent display on the top floor dedicated to Dutch, French and English artists. Every Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, the courtyard is the venue for antique fairs exhibiting a wide range of items.
Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art [Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM)]
Modern and contemporary artists such as Alfredo Volpi and Ligia Clark are a part of the permanent exhibitions at the Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM) located in Ibirapuera Park. There are also temporary exhibitions where new artists get to display their spark. With more than 4,500 painting, sculptures and artwork on display, MAM is a haven for art connoisseurs and collectors. Surrounding the museum is a garden featuring sculptures by Brazilian artists.
Zoological Gardens (Jardim Zoológico)
Located in the beautiful Parque do Estado, Jardim Zoológico is Brazil’s largest zoo. Home to more than 3,000 species of animals, the environment is predominantly a Mata Atlântica (Atlantic rain forest). Spread over a massive area, the zoo also runs a conservation program to save endangered species such as white rhinos and lion marmosets. It is one of the best-loved kid attractions in Sao Paulo.
State Art Gallery (Pinacoteca do Estado)
The Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo (Art Gallery of the State of Sao Paulo) is an excellent place to study and understand Brazilian art by renowned artists such as Rodin, Tarsila do Amaral and Cândido Portinari. Built in 1905, the building was renovated in 1998 to replace the inside walls with latticework of glass and open spaces connected by a sequence of catwalks. The place bursts with works by some of the best Brazilian artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. The precincts also include a restaurant.
The crowds stake their claim early on the streets of Rua Aspicuelta as Vila Madalena limbers up for the weekend, but just a few blocks from the hubbub the bohemian neighbourhood’s flipside shows its face, where the locals find refuge from the invasion.
Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral da Sé / Catedral Metropolitana)
Praça da Sé considered Sao Paulo’s geographical centre, a busy public space is the location of many historic, and religious sites, most notably the Metropolitan Cathedral. The construction of this major began in 1913 under the guidance of Maximilian Emil Hehl who designed it to resemble neo-gothic architectural style. As the fourth largest neo-gothic cathedral in the world and Sao Paulo’s largest, Metropolitan Cathedral can hold up to 8,000 worshippers at a time. Its architectural highlights feature stained glass panels from France, Italy and Brazil and the Renaissance-styled dome that adds contrast to the overall neo-gothic style.
Municipal Theatre (TEATRO MUNICIPAL)
Inspired by the Paris Opéra, the Municipal Theater was built between 1903 and 1911 with art nouveau elements. Hamlet was the first play presented, and the house went on to host such luminaries as Isadora Duncan in 1916 and Anna Pavlova in 1919. Plays and operas are still staged here; local newspapers, as well as the theater's website, have schedules and information on how to get tickets. The auditorium, resplendent with gold leaf, moss-green velvet, marble, and mirrors, has 1,500 seats and is usually open only to those attending cultural events, although prearranged visits are also available. A museum dedicated to the theater's history is located next door at Praça das Artes.
Avenida Paulista (Paulista Avenue)
Paulista Avenue is one of the most important avenues in Sao Paulo for headquartering numerous corporations and financial institutions on its extensive 2.8 kilometre stretch. It is also regarded as the most expensive real estate in Latin America. The avenue is culturally rich with a large number of museums and cultural institutions, notably the Sao Paulo Museum of Art (MASP). Several cultural events are held here annually, but it is most famously associated with the LGBT Pride Parade; the biggest pride parade of the world.
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