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



2 thoughts on “Historic downtown São Paulo

  1. Isn’t it sad how neglected downtown Sao Paulo is? I lived about a 15′ walk from where the city hall is, so that was my turf. I loved the architecture and history of all those buildings, but I never felt super comfortable to take pictures of the area. Yeah… sad.

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