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Sao Paulo (source taken from Expedia’s YouTube channel)

Maret 18, 2017

All rights belong to Expedia.

Sao Paulo, in southeast Brazil, is the most populous city in the Southern Hemisphere, and one of the biggest in 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 Sao 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.

Sao 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 a hundred museums, and taste flavors from all over the world, in some 20,000 cafes and restaurants.

Because Sao Paulo is so incomprehensively big, it helps to start at the very beginning of its history. The botanical gardens in Parque do Estado near the airport, preserves some of the Atlantic rainforest that cover much of the Brazilian coast.

The landscape was transformed when the Portuguese arrived, on a mission to convert the native Amerindians into the Catholic faith. Stand on the very spot where the city was founded by Portuguese Jesuits in 1554, at the Patio do Colegio in the old city center.

The location of their main church, the Praca da Se, now houses the neo-Gothic Metropolitan Cathedral with its Renaissance dome, which was modeled on that of the Cathedral of Florence in Italy.

In the 17th century, Sao Paulo grew exponentially when a gold rush attracted miners to the region. Next came African slaves, who were imported to work in the sugarcane and 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’s largest stock exchange since 1890. While just across the street is the richly decorated lavie of the former state bank’s headquarters, the Altino Arantes Building.

Three miles to the south, Avenida Paulista was built on the wealth of the first coffee barons. As the country’s financial artery and one of the city’s main thoroughfares, the boulevard pulses the energy of about 1.5 million pedestrians per day.

Apart from investing and its financial economy, Sao Paulo also has a policy of boosting its creative economy, making the city one of Brazil’s most exciting cultural hubs.

The Avenida Paulista is home to the gravity-defying Sao 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 space that it borrowed”, leaving the square underneath open for public enjoyment.

Finance and creativity go hand-in-hand at the Banco do Brasil, a historic financial institution that hosts one of the city’s most prominent cultural centers.

In a city that sees more than a million cars criss-crossing hundreds of miles of interconnected highways each and everyday, the pedestrianized Viaduto Santa Ifigenia is a breath of fresh air. This art nouveau viaduct links the Old Center to the New Center. Tour the nearby century-old Municipal Theater, a Beaux Arts building dedicated to ballet, opera, and other stage shows.

The ornate theater was inspired by the famous opera house Palais Garnier in Paris.

Find more cultural attractions to the north, in the Jardim da Luz district. The historic Julio Prestes Train Station has been transformed into an esteemed and elegant cultural center. While touring the grand halls of this monumental building, don’t miss the Sala Sao Paulo, a massive wood-panelled concert hall with an adjustable ceiling. The resulting acoustics are sent to rival those of the famous concert halls of Vienna and Berlin.

Nearby is the oldest art museum in Sao Paulo, the Pinacoteca do Estado. Take your time here, because in this beautifully renovated school of arts and crafts, you can admire nearly 9,000 pieces, including many priceless Brazilian collections.

There is no better place to explore Brazil’s culinary culture, than the nearby Mercado Municipal, with its delicious displays of homegrown fruits, 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 of this impressive market hall.

An eyecatching building of a completely different kind is the Ibirapuera Auditorium, designed by Brazil’s prolific architect, Oscar Niemeyer. It’s part of Ibirapuera Park in the south of 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’s favorite playground.

Sao Paulo wouldn’t be a Brazilian city, if it didn’t have an arena devoted to the nation’s biggest sport’s heroes. In the Pacaembu Stadium, soccer legends such as Pele, Ronaldo, Romario, and Ronaldinho, are on show in the highly interactive exhibits of its Football Museum.

A short drive to the west of the stadium is Vila Madalena. Shop for unique souvenirs in one of the colorful stores, or have lunch with the locals. The neighborhood is as famous for its little shops and art galleries, as for its marvelous street art. Some of these artists have since made a name for 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, hospitality, and art. Sao 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.

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