Photo above is Aerial View of São Paulo – Credit to Fernando Stankuns
On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best things to see and best things to do in São Paulo, Day 2.
VISITING SÃO PAULO
Our second day in São Paulo started with a private walking tour of the Old Town, that we booked in advance with “São Paulo Free Walking Tour”. This company offers various tours of the city and some of them are free.
They didn’t have any free tours on the day we were there (surprisingly!), so we paid for a private one.
I strongly advise anyone wanting to walk in the centre of São Paulo to go with a guide or a local that knows the area well because of security issues.
Unfortunately, the centre of town is not a very safe area to be walking by yourself, and you certainly should not be showing off your mobile phone because there are lots of pick pocketers in the area. They will snatch your phone and run away on foot or on a bicycle.
So, don’t show off any valuables (jewellery, cameras, mobiles) or take photos, until the guide says it is safe to do so. But don’t let this put you off visiting the centre of town. If you are with a guide or a local that knows well the area and the behaviour of the pick pocketers, you will be safe: they will not attack a group of tourists accompanied with a guide.
We had no problems during our walk and just followed the instructions of the guide.
The meeting point was next to Praça da Republica. We met the guide; she explained the tour and where we would go and gave us all the necessary advice.
We then set out and our first stop was Edifício Itália (Italy Building). It was built in 1956 and it has 46 storeys with a rooftop deck open to the public for contemplating wonderful views of São Paulo.
Edifício Itália is the 3rd tallest building in São Paulo. The tour we were in didn’t include time to enter and visit any of the buildings, it only covered external visits of the important buildings, and some background history of the place given by the guide.
As well as the observatory at the roof top, there is also a restaurant with pretty views and a bar with live music. I had already been at the restaurant and at the viewing platform, and as the tour didn’t allow time to visit, we didn’t go up this time.
We continued our walking tour, and the next stop was “Edifício Copan” (Copan Building). This building is a mixture of residential flats and commercial shops and offices.
People who live at Copan don’t need to leave the building, as they will find anything they need there. There is a supermarket, clothes shops, dentists, doctors, a church, restaurants, you name it, and it will be there.
The building has 38 storeys; it has 20 elevators and 100 employees to look after the building. It was designed by Oscar Niemeyer and was completed in 1966. This building is a landmark in the city of São Paulo, and it is a must to see even from the outside, like we did.
Next stop was the “Teatro Municipal de São Paulo” built on the “Morro do Chá”. Construction started in 1903 and lasted 8 years with the opening on 12th September 1911.
The design resembles Palais Garnier in Paris and was built with materials imported from Europe. Throughout the years this theatre was home to famous operas, ballet performances, and theatre plays.
It is an important cultural venue for the whole of South America.
We followed on to “Viaduto do Chá”, another famous place in São Paulo and where the Town Hall is located.
Continuing, we passed the “Igreja São Francisco de Assis” and, “Faculdade de Direito da Universidade São Paulo” (Law School) until we arrived at “Catedral da Sé”.
The full name of the Cathedral is “Catedral Metropolitana de São Paulo”, but it is known as “Catedral da Sé”.
Its construction started in 1913 and only finished 40 years later. The Cathedral is home of the remains of important Jesuits such as Manoel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta, as well as the indigenous Cacique (Chief) Tibiriça, an important indigenous leader at the time of the Portuguese’s colonisation of Brazil.
As one of the largest cathedrals in the world, 800 tones of marble were used for its construction. It is a beautiful building and deserves the same attention as any other old building in Europe.
However, sadly, drug addicts and homeless people decided to make the Cathedral’s front garden their home. This is a very sad situation that went on for too long.
At the time of our visit (December 2022), the guide did not take us in front of the church for safety reasons and I could only take a photo from the back of it. She showed us a photo of the cathedral front instead!
Later on, a friend of mine who lives in São Paulo told me that these people had been removed from there (April/2023). It is worth checking if this is really the case before going and always go with a guide.
After that, wee then had a stop for drinks and something to eat at a local bakery, as well as a rest of about half an hour.
Continuing our walk in the centre of São Paulo we reached “Praça João Mendes”. This is a square where you can see a mural painted by the urban artist “Mundano”.
The mural makes homage to Ari Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, a teacher and environmental agent in the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau indigenous villages, who was brutally killed in April 2020 defending his territory in the state of Rondônia, north of Brazil.
We followed on and passed by “Rua Direita” where we saw another mural on the side of the Afubesp building.
This mural was called “Preta Rainha” (Black Queen) by the artist “Crica Monteiro“, and it was part of five murals painted by women in homage to the modernist painter “Tarsila do Amaral”.
We walked in the direction of “Páteo do Colégio” passing in front of the “Solar da Marquesa de Santos”.
The “Solar da Marquesa de Santos” is one of the last 18th century’s buildings in São Paulo. It used to belong to Domitilia de Castro e Melo (Marquesa de Santos), the lover of Dom Pedro I (first Emperor of Brazil).
She lived there between 1834 and 1867 after she ended up the relations with Dom Pedro I. The solar was known as “Palacete do Carmo” in those days and was famous for the lavish parties she used to host for the aristocracy of São Paulo. Today the building is listed and is used as a museum.
“Páteo do Colégio” is very close to the “Solar of Marquesa de Santos” and this is where the first construction of the city of São Paulo took place in 1554.
It was the Jesuit school known as “Real Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga” where the priests Manuel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta started converting to Christianity the indigenous peoples of São Paulo.
This is a historic place and is used as a museum with a collection of sacred art, a cultural institution providing concerts, folkloric presentations, puppet theatre for children, and children’s activities.
From there we passed in front of the “Law Courts of Justice of São Paulo” and the “Impostômetro” (a panel which measures the amount paid by Brazilians in taxes at the federal, state and municipal levels).
We were in December and the number was 2.789.494.985.228,70 (2.8 trillion) Reais. On 1st January the impostômetro goes back to zero and starts counting again.
Continuing the walk, we turned on “Avenida São João” (famous because of a song from Caetano Veloso called “Sampa” short for São Paulo) and passed in front of the statue of “Zumbi dos Palmares” an icon against the slavery in Brazil.
A little bit further and we arrived in front of “Edifício Martinelli”.
“Martinelli Building” was the first high rise building in São Paulo and indeed in South America at the time. It has 28 storeys and is 105 m tall, named after its constructor, the Italian Giuseppe Martinelli, and was completed in 1929.
The full story about the planning and construction of this building is very interesting and can be read at the following site:
From there we walked to “Mercado Municipal” where we ended the walk and said goodbye to our guide.
We entered the marked, which was very busy being lunch time, and were surprised with the number of fruits and vegetables available, some not easily found anywhere else.
On the ground floor they have the stalls selling fruit, vegetables, and food in general as well as some restaurants where you can eat the famous “mortadella” sandwich.
We stopped and ordered one of these sandwiches to share. It was so big that my daughter and I shared one and we still left some of it because we could not manage it all.
There is also a mezzanine floor with more restaurants looking down on the stalls. This is a very big and busy food market, one of the biggest markets I’ve ever been to. I love visiting food markets on my trips and this one didn’t disappoint.
After exploring the market, the whole afternoon, we went back to the flat for some rest and to get ready for dinner.
Dinner was at Madero Steak House, near the flat, where we had a lovely dinner of steaks and burgers.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TRIP
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in São Paulo, Day 2. I classified each place as follows:
BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended
NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews
*** – Excellent
** – Good
* – OK
£££ – Expensive
££ – Fair and affordable
£ – Cheap
WHAT TO SEE IN SÃO PAULO DAY 2
1 – Walking tour – ***
2 – Edifício Itália – ***
3 – Edifício Copan – ***
4 – Teatro Municipal de São Paulo – ***
5 – Viaduto do Chá – ***
6 – Igreja São Francisco de Assis – ***
7 – Catedral da Sé – ***
8 – Mundano Mural of Ari Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau – ***
9 – Crica Monteiro Mural of Preta Rainha – ***
10 – Páteo do Colégio – ***
11 – Solar da Marquesa de Santos – ***
12 – Impostômetro – ***
13 – Zumbi dos Palmares Statue – ***
14 – Edifício Martinelli – ***
15 – Mercado Municipal – ***
WHERE TO STAY IN SÃO PAULO
1 – Tivoli Mofarrej São Paulo – 5* – £££
2 – Hotel Unique – 5* – £££
3 – Laghetto Stilo São Paulo – 4* – ££
4 – House of Charlie Vila Mariana – 3* – ££
WHERE TO EAT IN SÃO PAULO
1 – Mocotó – ££
2 – Madero Steak House – *** – ££
3 – Bar da Dona Onça – ££
4 – A Casa do Porco – ££
If you tried any of my recommendations above, please send me a message and tell me about your experience good or bad, so I can update the list accordingly. Thanks!
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