SÃ£o Paulo: Metropolis of the Americas
If you had the impression the most populous city in the Americas was New York or Los Angeles, think again. SÃ£o Paolo, Brazil has 11 million people and another 9 million people in a spectacularly vast metropolitan area. This is the predominant metropolis in the Americas and a great place to explore for tourists from all over the world.
Image by Wikimedia Commons
SÃ£o Paolo was formally established by the Portuguese in 1554 and was initially an outpost for Catholic missionaries. In 1711 the city’s designation became official and over time, coffee exports made SÃ£o Paolo’s European landowners fortunes, thanks in no small part to slavery and later, indentured labor.
The city continued to grow at an alarming rate well into the 20th century as Japanese, Syrian, Lebanese and again, European (mainly Italian and German) immigrants came to start a new life. As a result, SÃ£o Paolo is now Brazil’s most ethnically diverse city, bar none.
Image by Pedro Angelini
Start your exploration of SÃ£o Paolo in the dynamic city center – the historic core. The civic spectacle of paulistanos on the go is a marvelous scene and there is much fine architecture to observe as well. The Neo-Gothic Metropolitan SÃ© Cathedral is a prominent icon and one of the most famous landmarks in SÃ£o Paolo.
Image by Leandro’s World Tour
The 35-story-high Banespa tower, otherwise known as the Altino Arantes Building, is a must for free panoramic views. RepÃºblica Square is a great example of harmonious architectural styles in one tidy space. Also, a stroll in the neighborhoods of Luz and EstaÃ§Ã£o da Luz might take you to several of SÃ£o Paulo’s most cultural attractions: Museu de Arte Sacra (museum of religious art), Pinacoteca do Estado de SÃ£o Paulo (museum of Brazilian art), Museu da LÃngua Portuguesa (an interactive museum of the Portuguese language).
Image by Andre Banyai
Image by Rodrigo_Soldon
Scenesters, foodies and nightlife lovers should not miss the enclaves of Itaim Bibi, Vila OlÃmpia, Vila Madalena and Pinheiros. These chic ‘hoods are perfect for strolling, wining, dining, shopping and partying altogether. Paulistanos say that a visit to SÃ£o Paulo without a foray into these districts – all part of Centro Expandido (Expanded Center) – is a tragic loss.
Image by cassimano
Paulista Avenue is a vital SÃ£o Paulo artery. The 2.8 km-long thoroughfare is home to some of the most important financial and cultural institutions in the country. One of South America’s most famous art museums, the SÃ£o Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) is here, as well as many archetypes of modernist architecture. Needless to say, Paulista Avenue contains the most expensive real estate on the continent.
Image by Wagner T. Cassimiro “Aranha”
Image by D’Amico Rodrigo
With traffic congestion a major problem, SÃ£o Paulo Metro is the best way to travel within the city. The underground network is perfect for tourists – just try to avoid the early and late rush hours.
Image by Milton Jung CBNSP
While Rio de Janeiro and to a certain extent, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba and FlorianÃ³polis, get a lot of tourist love, SÃ£o Paulo is often thought of as a soulless financial, business and administrative hub – albeit with close to 20 million people. A shame because the gargantuan city offers such a diverse cornucopia of cultural gems and de facto “city within a city” enclaves. So take the time to consider Brazil’s major metropolis and remember, luxury hotels in SÃ£o Paulo rank up there with the very best on the planet.
Image by jdlasica