São Paulo, in southeast Brazil, is the most populous city in the Southern Hemisphere, and one of the biggest on the planet.
This once modest missionary outpost has grown out to become the country’s economical and cultural powerhouse.
Welcome to the fascinating city of São Paulo.
This is the city… fondly known as Sampa These are the locals ….
who call themselves Paulistanos.
And this is what brings out their passion: strong coffee… named cafezinho, soccer… which they call futebol and of course: … carnival.
São Paulo may not have Rio’s famous beaches, but it makes up for it in culture.
In this energetic and creative city, you can enjoy the cool escape of nearly ahundred museums and taste flavors from all over the world in some twenty-thousand cafés and restaurants.
Because São Paulo is so incomprehensibly big, it helps to start at the very beginning ofits history.
The botanical gardens in Parque do Estadonear the airport, preserves some of the Atlantic Rainforest that covered much of the Brazilian coast.
The landscape was transformed when the Portuguese arrived, on a mission to convert the native Amerindiansto the catholic faith.
Stand on the very spot where the city wasfounded by Portuguese Jesuits in 1554 at the Pátio do Colégio in the old citycenter.
The location of their main church, the Praça da Sé, now houses the neo-gothic Metropolitan Cathedralwith its Renaissance dome, which was modeled on that of the Cathedralof Florence in Italy.
In the 17th-century, São Paulo grew exponentially when a gold rush attracted miners to the region.
Next came African slaves, who were imported to work in the sugar caneand coffee plantations.
The 19th century brought more Europeans and the Japanese followed in the 20th century.
The resulting melting pot of cultures is the pulsing engine that now drives Brazil’s economy.
The city’s oldest district, Centro, has been home to Latin America’slargest Stock Exchange since 1890.
While just across the street is the richly decorated lobby of the formerstate bank’s headquarters, the Altino Arantes Building.
Three miles to the south, Avenida Paulista was built on the wealth ofthe first coffee barons.
As the country’s financial artery and oneof the city’s main thoroughfares, the boulevard pulses with the energy of aboutone and a half million pedestrians per day.
Apart from investing in its financial economy, São Paulo also has a policy of boosting itscreative economy, making the city one of Brazil’s most excitingcultural hubs.
The Avenida Paulista is home to the gravity-defyingSão Paulo Museum of Art.
Inside, view paintings by acclaimed European masters, such as Van Gogh, Raphael and Picasso, as well as Brazil’s own leading artists.
This remarkable museum belongs to the people and it was the wish of the architect that her modernist design would “return the same amount of public spacethat it borrowed”, leaving the square underneath open for publicenjoyment.
Finance and creativity go hand in hand atthe Banco do Brazil, a historic financial institution that hosts one of the city’s most prominentCultural Centers.
In a city that sees more than a million cars crisscrossing hundreds of miles of interconnectedhighways each and every day, the pedestrianized Viaduto Santa Ifigenia is a breath of fresh air.
This art nouveau viaduct links the Old Centerto the New Center.
Tour the nearby century-old Municipal Theatre, a Beaux Arts building dedicated to ballet, opera and other stage shows.
The ornate theatre was inspired by the famousopera house Palais Garnier in Paris.
Find more cultural attractions to the north, in the Jardim da Luz district.
The historic Júlio Prestes Train Station has been transformed into an esteemed andelegant Cultural Center.
While touring the grand halls of this monumentalbuilding, don’t miss the Sala São Paulo, a massive wood-panelled concert hall withan adjustable ceiling.
The resulting acoustics are said to rival those of the famous concert halls ofVienna and Berlin.
Nearby is the oldest art museum in São Paulo, the Pinacoteca do Estado.
Take your time here, because in this beautifully renovated schoolof arts and crafts you can admire nearly 9, 000 pieces, including many priceless Brazilian collections.
There is no better place to experience Brazil’sculinary culture than the nearby Mercado Municipal with its delicious displays of home-grownfruits, cheeses, meats and other local specialties.
Find a table on the mezzanine level, to look down on the hustle and bustle and admire the richly decorated windows ofthis impressive market hall.
An eye-catching building of a completely differentkind is the Ibirapuera Auditorium, designed by Brazil’s prolific architect, Oscar Niemeyer.
It’s part of Ibirapuera Park in the southof the city.
While in the park, visit the Museum of Modern Art and the Afro Brazil Museum or simply join the locals in the city’sfavorite playground.
São Paulo wouldn’t be a Brazilian city if it didn’t have an arena devoted to thenation’s biggest sports heroes.
In the Pacaembu Stadium, soccer legends such as Pelé, Ronaldo, Romario and Ronaldinho are on show in thehighly interactive exhibits of its Football Museum.
A short drive to the west of the stadium isVila Madalena.
Shop for unique souvenirs in one of the colorful stores, or have lunch with the locals.
The neighborhood is as famous for its littleshops and art galleries as for its marvellous street art.
Some of these artists have since made a namefor themselves on a world stage.
Having risen above its humble beginnings as a missionary outpost in an uncharted land, Sampa is not only Brazil’s economic powerhouse, but also the guardian of its priceless, intangible assets.
It's a city of culture, creativity, hospitalityand art.
São Paulo today rides a wave of positive energy into the future and is truly a destination that is much greater than the sum of its parts.