While many may assume that Rio de Janeiro is the largest city in Brazil, Sao Paulo is actually larger. This sprawling cityscape hides a treasure trove of history for those looking to get away from the tourist-laden beaches.
Read on to learn about just a few examples of what Sao Paulo has to offer for curious adventurers like yourself.
Simply Ibirapuera Park in English, this metropolitan park was inaugurated in August 1954.
At 158 hectares or 1.58km2 in size, this respite from the hustle and bustle of busy Sao Paulo has been likened to other famous parks like Central Park in New York City, Hyde Park in London, and Ueno Park in Tokyo.
It is the most visited park in South America, garnering the attention of over 14 million visitors annually, at least before COVID-19 travel and social distancing restrictions.
The space is also host to many impressive points of interest and historic sites such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Afro-Brazil Museum which immortalizes some of the unique histories shared between the peoples on those two continents.
Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo
Portuguese for “picture gallery of the state of Sao Paulo,” this prominent art museum is one of the most important in all of Brazil. Established in 1905, it is the oldest art museum in Sao Paulo and contains one of the greatest collections of 19th-century paintings and sculptures in the country.
In more recent years, the museum continues to produce and archive new historic events. During the economic downturn in 2008, there were two high profile art heists at the museum within just six months of each other.
Pieces from renowned artists including Pablo Picasso and Emiliano Di Cavalcanti were stolen from the museum in the cover of the dark, early hours of the morning. After a few months of searching, police managed to turn up some of the missing artistic artifacts when investigating one of the culprits’ houses.
The pieces were returned to their rightful place in the museum to be shared with tourists across the globe.
Museu do Futebol
The Museum of Football may sound like an attraction tailored for sports fans, the museum is about more than just football.
The museum is about the history of Brazil and its people and the ways sports bring out the best in everyday people, and simultaneously the worst in the sport’s fans.
Delving deep into 20th century Brazil, the museum examines customs and behaviors, and how they have changed over time through the lens of football.
Even Google has recognized the significance of this particular museum, partnering with them to create what is known as the Offside Museum. This project shares curated photographs and documents of stories about women who illegally participated in the sport between 1941 and 1979 – a period when football was prohibited.
This district of Sao Paulo was formerly known as Campo Da Forca, Field of the Gallows until well into the 19th century. The area holds a dark history, being restricted for the execution and burial of slaves and convicts centuries ago.
It was believed that death was these people’s only path to liberty (Liberdade) hence the name we know it by today.
In a slightly odd turn of events, the area became associated with Japanese culture thanks to the large influx of Japanese immigrants moving to the area starting in 1912, just before World War One.
The area prospered because many of the new Japanese residents set up shops and businesses that generated more jobs. Today, it is thought to have the highest concentration of Japanese people outside of Japan, and there are all sorts of trinkets and items to buy around the area, so make sure you have enough money.
Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley)
As you might be able to guess, the name for this attraction is attributed to one of the first prominent graffiti works depicting the DC comics character painted back in the 1980s.
In the not-so-distant past of 2006, the mayor of Sao Paulo passed the Clean City Law, removing the visual pollution of billboards and company ads from all over the city. This was a welcome change for many residents but it also resulted in a lot of awe-inspiring graffiti being washed away.
Many may associate graffiti with delinquents or just a general disrespect for property, but this isn’t always the case. For Brazilians, it is simply another way of expressing themselves and it is breathtaking.
Bold, colorful illustrations splash across every inch of available wall space on this street. Some are just pictures that someone wanted to paint, while others are powerful statements about the world and politics that concern artistic citizens.
Paintings are colored over from time to time by newcomers so each visit is likely to be a unique experience.
Monumento a Independencia do Brasil
The Monument to the Independence of Brazil is similar to the Statue of Liberty in the United States of America, celebrating the first centenary of Brazil’s independence from its European colonizer – Portugal.
Located in Independence Park, Emperor Pedro I is laid to rest in the crypt close to where he declared Brazil’s independence from the country. The surrounding area is revered and consecrated as a Catholic chapel following the demands of Prince Pedro Henrique of Orleans-Braganza.
The surrounding greenery of the park is a lush backdrop to just about any relaxing activity you can imagine. Once you’re satisfied with taking in the history and scenery, it is easy to find your next destination for food or entertainment thanks to the park’s location.
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