São Paulo: Luz Train Station and Pinacoteca (11/21/16 Part 2)

November 21, 2016

From downtown, we took the metro to Luz, the largest and most historic train station in São Paulo.  Through this station have passed agricultural products from far-flung farms and plantations, as well as natural resources such as coal and minerals.  Luz was the hub of transportation activity as well as the place where immigrants entered the country back in the late 19th and early 20th century when the city was beginning to expand rapidly.

Luz train station, the oldest in SP, from Pinacoteca. It was through Luz station that immigrants first arrived in Brazil.
Inside Luz Station it is a zoo – throngs of people rushing every which way. Crowds of people cluster around the doors to get on and the trains are always crowded. Luz is a connecting station for every subway line in SP.
Brazilian Constitution, illustrated graphically on the walls of Luz Station
Brazilian Constitution, illustrated graphically on the walls of Luz Station by a collaborative group of school children.
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Detail of two of the “bubbles” which represent articles of the Constitution

 Across from the station, in Praça da Luz, is a historic building called the Pinacoteca, from the Latin word for art gallery.  In this museum are housed works by Brazilian painters and sculptors from the 18th and 19th centuries.  There are also temporary (which are located in Pinacoteca’s other building in the district of  Bom Retiro) and permanent expositions of modern Brazilian art. This is what we ended up seeing.


The building was constructed in 1900 and was originally a lyceum of arts and crafts.  It was renovated in the 19990s and since then has become one of the most important cultural centers in Brazil. We went inside as much to see the building as the artwork. 

Looking up from one of the courtyards
Fernando Limberger,
This is a piece of artwork by Fernando Limberger, “Contencao verde Botanica SP”

There were artworks made of words:

There are words overlapping on each layer of this circle.
There are words, made of glass, overlapping on each layer of this circle.



A fantasy landscape made of knitted yarn:



Installation by artist Ana Maria Tavares, with mirror panels on all sides which give a sometimes distorted reflection.


This is my reflection as I take a photograph.
Hallway flanked by galleries on both sides

One of these galleries contained paintings by Brazilian artists.

Ivan Serpa (1923-1973),
Rio de Janeiro artist Ivan Serpa (1923-1973), “Figura” (Figure), 1964; oil on canvas
Gilvan Samico, from Recife (1928-2013), woodcut on paper; Top: “A louca do jardim” (The Madwoman in the Garden), 1963; Bottom: “Alexandrino e o passaro do fogo” (Alexandrino and the Firebird), 1962

We saw sculptures:

Animal totem in a courtyard


Flavio Cerqueira (Sao Paulo, 1983 – ) “Antes que eu me esqueca” (Before I Forget Myself), 2013.

By the time we emerged and wanted to take a walk at the adjoining park, Praça da Luz, it was 6 pm and the park was closed, the entry gate padlocked. We looked through the bars at the beautiful tropical plants and meandering paths within.

Looking through the locked gates at Luz Park, where it would have been lovely to go for a stroll.
Luz Park from the entrance gate.
Luz Park from the entrance gate.

We headed back to Vila Mariana on the metro. It was rush hour on a weekday and Luz Station was teeming with people anxious to get home, Luz Station being a hub with connections to the other lines in the São Paulo Metro system. As “idosos” (elderly – age 60 and over), we got to ride free!


Historic downtown São Paulo

November 21, 2016

Another nice day, although not as warm as yesterday.  I realized that I’d gotten sunburned on my neck, shoulder, face and head, so I made sure to bring my hat on our excursion to downtown today. After breakfast at our little table set up next to the kitchen in our host’s apartment, we set out toward Vila Mariana station and took the metro to Praça da Sé. 


At the square, the Catedral da Sé is the most imposing structure.  We went inside but there was a mass going on and a man stepped forward and gestured to us that no pictures were allowed, so we only got a few shots before that.  I went over to look at a large crèche that had been set up – quite beautiful.

Beautiful stained glass window at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Sao Paulo


Metropolitan Cathedral interior
Metropolitan Cathedral interior
Church doorway
Church doorway
Cathedral exterior
Cathedral exterior


Praça da Sé wasn’t really what I expected.  There were fountains, but they mainly consisted of cascades, not classy fountains with statues in them.  What statues and sculptures there were had been made ugly by spray-painted random graffiti.  There were a lot of homeless people who slept in the square and a few even had set up tents.  Someone had washed a pair of jeans and hung them to dry on a sculpture. 

Waterfall in Praca da Se'
Waterfall in Praca da Se’
Another sculpture in Praca da Se’, where homeless people lay their clothes out to dry.


The whole place had an aspect of neglect.  Taking out our cameras automatically attracted beggars, so we put them away in Dale’s backpack and used our cell phones so we were less conspicuous.


Homeless and others gather under a large metal sculpture on one corner of Praca da Se’.

I wanted to go to Vale do Anhangabú, which I’d read was a wide parkway flanked by skyscrapers and historical buildings, and containing nice landscaping with sculptures, fountains, etc., but we never got there.  I was using the map I’d gotten at MAC-USP but not all the streets were marked with names and there being so many small streets crammed into a small area that intersected at various angles with each other, I got confused.  It turns out we were very close to it. I should have tried to use my GPS, which I have used to navigate our way around Vila Mariana. 

We did get to Largo do São Bento with its old church


and Pátio do Colégio where the city was founded. Being Monday, however, the small historical museums were closed.


Here, under the cross of Christ, this city was born, dedicated to the Apostle Paul by the Jesuits Father Manuel da Nobrega and Brother Jose de Anchieta, among others, January 25, 1554 AD




We also strolled down the historic street XV de Novembro



with classic architecture of colorful historical buildings with iron-wrought balconies alongside modern ones and large, elegant turn-of-the-century buildings that housed the major banks. {See my post Thursday doors: Historic buildings in downtown São Paulo for larger versions of these.)

People waited outside City Hall, which was apparently closed for lunch!


In the Praça Antonio Prado, a new monument was erected for the occasion of Day of Black Consciousness on November 20 (yesterday!) to honor Zumbi dos Palmares, the leader of  Quilombo de Palmares in what is now the state of Alagoas. Quilombos were villages formed by runaway slaves deep in the jungle during  early colonial times.  Nearby is the church of the Irmandade de Nossa Senhora do Rosário, Homens Pretos  (Convent Our Lady of the Rosary, Black People). The date of Nov. 20 was selected because it marks the date Zumbi was killed: Nov. 20, 1695. The statue is 2 meters tall and was sculpted in bronze by José Maria dos Santos, winner of a contest to select the artist who would create the monument.

A 2 meters tall bronze statue was erected earlier this year (2016) to honor Zumbi dos Palmares. It was created by Jose Maria dos Santos.


We had lunch at about 2 pm at a restaurant called Restaurante Viella with colorful streamers and a bicycle hanging from the ceiling. By the time we were finished, it was after 3 pm.

Next: Part 2, Luz Station and Pinacoteca



Thursday Doors: Historical buildings in downtown São Paulo

São Paulo’s main branch banks and other government buildings are large, ostentatious edifices. There are super-modern buildings with all-glass exteriors, but these in the old part of downtown are built in the style of the early 20th century. Most of them are located along XV de Novembro and adjacent streets. Particular notable are the arches, decorative facades, and detailed ironwork.


Banco de Sao Paulo
Banco do Brasil is easily identifiable by its signature logo.


Banco Santander


City Hall main entrance
More of the City Hall Façade
8th Registry Office of the Capital of Sao Paulo

At nearby Praça da Sé is the imposing Catedral da Sé.

Church doorway
Cathedral main entrance
Igreja de Sao Bento
Church of Sao Bento

Some historical entryways are far less imposing.


Museu Anchieta marks the founding of the city of Sao Paulo. Unfortunately it is closed on Mondays!

Thursday Doors, 4/27/17




Popular Pizzeria in São Paulo: Quintal do Braz

November 20, 2016

Vila Mariana, the district where we stayed in São Paulo, has many good restaurants. One of the most popular and famous is Quintal do Braz (now called Braz Quintal), a pizzeria only a short walk from our apartment building.  My advice is to get there early because it gets very crowded and there’s a long wait to get in.  We were lucky – being American tourists, we are used to wanting dinner by 7:00 pm, so we were shown to a table right away!

Quintal do Braz was so good, and so close to where we were staying, that we returned there the following night.  Here is my review on Trip Advisor:

Reviewed February 10, 2017

Loved it so much we ate here twice in a row! The menu is almost exclusively pizzas but with every conceivable topping, including fried egg, asparagus, etc. It is very popular so usually crowded – expect a wait if you visit during high traffic times (6:30-8:30 pm).

  • Visited November 2016
At left, my husband Dale, drinking a caipirinha while waiting for our pizza.
A partial view of the crowds – the space is very large. There are tables outside as well, but the weather was a bit too cool for sitting outside.

Since we wanted to share, it was hard to choose from the many delicious combinations on the menu! We finally had to compromise.


Here are some more pictures of the delicious pizzas at Quintal do Braz that I downloaded from Google:

In back you can see the two giant pizza ovens.
This is one of the pizzas we had – with egg, asparagus, bacon, and other toppings.

These mouth-watering photos are making me hungry! But I’ve never encountered a pizzeria that compares to Braz Quintal!

Av. Paulista, Part 2: MASP & Siqueira Campos Park

November 20, 2016

On a sunny Sunday afternoon on Av. Paulista, São Paulo, we saw:

A “sertanejo” trio, traditional music from Northeastern Brazil
Celtic band!
Live statue – In homage to anonymous writers: “Reading is the food of the soul.”

We went into MASP where they had some unusual exhibits, including a lot of folk art.

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Indigenous pottery


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Dolls representing typical dress of different regions as well as a diversity of races.
This contraption was traditionally used to make “cachaça”, Brazilian sugar cane liquor.

There was also a gallery where all the pictures stood singly in stands across the room, not on the walls.  To find out who the artist was, you had to go around to look at the back of the painting where the information was.  Not knowing this right away made me think about the paintings differently.

20161120_150210One of them, for example, made use of dark colors in a religious scene.  This one has to be Spanish, I thought – and when I went around to the back, I found I was right – it was an El Greco!  Nearby, I saw another one which I also thought was Spanish – that time, I was wrong: it was Italian.  Many of the works were by Brazilian artists, whom I’d never heard of, but I began to recognize certain styles and folkloric themes.

Brazilian artist Vicente do Rego Monteiro, “Menino nu e tartaruga” (Nude Boy and Turtle), oil on canvas, 1923
Maria Auxiliadora da Silva, “Velorio da noiva” (The Bride’s Wake), 1974. Maria Auxiliadora da Silva moved to Sao Paulo with her family when she was a child. She quit school to work as a housekeeper to help support 18 siblings! She began painting at age 32, using acrylics or a combination of paint and hair to lend texture to her scenes of popular festivals, rituals, and religious ceremonies from both the Catholic and Candomble (an African-based polytheist religion) traditions.

Leaving the museum, we found out there was to be a concert later that day by a classical ensemble, which was tempting, but instead we continued on to see more sights along the avenue.


Across the avenue from MASP is a park, commonly called Trianon Park, but it is actually Siqueira Campos Park according to a sign at the far end.  Paths took us through tropical forest plants.  In some spots, we heard music:  a group doing pretty terrible a cappella renditions of Beatles songs; recorded music on a CD or MP3 player while a man watch a woman doing modern dance moves.  It was a great make-out place too – we saw couples of several types:  straight, gay, and lesbian.  I thought, Dale and I should sit on a bench and make out to contribute another type – OLD lovers! At the entrance to the park on the Av. Paulista side were many stands displaying craft goods for sale – we briefly glanced at them, but didn’t stop.  However, somewhere along the avenue, Dale got a São Paulo t-shirt and a new cap that says Brasil on it.