5 Must-Do Cultural Tours In Sao Paulo
December 3, 2018
by Camila Melo
Sao Paulo is one of the most diverse metropolises in all of Latin America. This diversity is largely the result of the large-scale immigration which occurred in the first half of the twentieth century. Dozens of nations are represented in the city; with Portuguese, Bolivians, and Japanese currently being the largest communities.
Japanese culture is heavily represented in the Liberdade neighborhood, located in the central area of the city. The Kantuta fair, held on Sundays in Canindé, north of the capital, is the ideal place to get to know about Bolivian culture. The heritage of the Portuguese colonizers can be found in several places around the city.
If you have already visited the main sights of Sao Paulo, try a cultural immersion following the 5 routes below.
Portuguese Food And Historical Places
The Portuguese presence is especially noticeable in restaurants and confectioneries, which have multiplied in recent years. Paulistanos (as the locals from Sao Paulo are called) and tourists flood Casa Mathilde, Manteigaria Lisboa, and B.lem to indulge in pastéis de nata (cream cake) and other delights. Fish and pork specialties can be found at renowned locations such as A Bela Sintra and Tasca da Esquina, or at more economical places like Gajos and Ora Pois.
Casa do Grito
However, the Portuguese presence in Sao Paulo goes far beyond gastronomy. There is much history spread throughout the city, starting with the Ipiranga Museum, which celebrates the Independence of Brazil. The museum is unfortunately currently closed for renovation, but it is possible to visit Casa do Grito, a wattle and daub house which is depicted in Pedro Américo’s famous painting of the Proclamation of Independence. Contrary to what the picture implies, however, the house was actually built in 1844, long after the act commanded by D. Pedro II in 1822 that changed the history of Brazil.
Solar da Marquesa
The historical importance of Casa do Grito is undeniable, but going to the Ipiranga neighborhood just to see it is only worth it if you are really interested in the Brazilian colonial period. A more interesting alternative is the Solar da Marquesa, in the city center.
This house belonged to Maria Domitila de Castro e Mello, the Marchioness of Santos, who was a lover of Dom Pedro I and one of the main characters of the monarchist period. The construction is the last representative of the urban residential architecture of the eighteenth century in Sao Paulo.
The façade maintains its neoclassical characteristics. The upper floor conserves the pylon and wattle and daub walls of the XVIII century. Several construction techniques have been used over time and are preserved in some sections of the walls. Solar da Marquesa is located at Roberto Simonsen Street, 136, near to others must-see attractions.
The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil more than a century ago, in 1908. While many moved inland to work on the coffee plantations, some of them settled in the capital, and in the 1950s the Liberdade neighborhood gained its first Eastern characteristics, although the famous red lanterns in the streets were only installed in 1974.
Visiting Liberdade is one of the main tourist attractions of the capital and a usual tour for many Paulistanos as well. Currently, the neighborhood also gathers other Eastern nationalities, such as Chinese and Koreans, and offers a diversity of shops, restaurants, markets, and services maintained by the community. On weekends, the square where the Liberdade metro station is located headquarters a handicraft fair, which increases the number of visitors in the region even more, especially on Sundays. If you would rather avoid crowded places, schedule your visit from Monday to Friday.
Typical food, handicrafts, and general Bolivian products occupy the Kantuta Square, in Canindé (Pedro Vicente St), on Sundays. The empanadas (a kind of fried or roasted pastry) are favorites; colorful bags also are a hit with visitors. Homesick Bolivians look for Inca Kola, a traditional (and very sweet) soda in Bolivia and Peru. During the afternoon, music and dance performances cheer the place. Unlike the Liberdade Fair, Kantuta is more visited by the Bolivian community than by tourists.
Pizza And Edifício Itália
It is impossible to speak of immigration in Sao Paulo without mentioning the Italians, who, along with the Portuguese, were the ones who most influenced the Sao Paulo culture. Pizzerias, canteens, the special accent of the inhabitants of the Mooca neighborhood and the Palmeiras soccer team: all of them are part of the Italian heritage.
The city of Sao Paulo has no less than 1,200 pizzerias, according to the Hotels, Restaurants, Bars and Similar Syndicate and is full of options for all tastes, from traditional to modern recipes. Indulge yourself at Bráz, Speranza or Camelo.
I could talk a lot more about the gastronomic options, one of the Sao Paulo highlights, but you also want to “visit” the city, right?
A good choice is Edifício Itália, in the city center, home of the Italian Circolo and the Terraço Itália restaurant, located on the top floor. Inaugurated in 1965, the construction is 165 meters in height and is the second highest building in Sao Paulo to this day. The building symbolizes the economic and social rise of immigrants.
Terraço Itália offers its visitors a privileged view of the city. The restaurant is one of the most exquisite in Sao Paulo, but if you are not willing to spend a lot of money, go between 3 pm and 7 pm. At this time a fee of $30 reais will be charged for the visit, which includes a drink.
After all this, you will not be surprised if I say that Sao Paulo has a museum reporting the immigrant’s story. With its headquarters in the old Newcomer’s Inn, the Immigration Museum gathers documents, photos, videos, objects and testimonies that, more than simply showing the immigration process of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Brazil, reveal how immigration is part of the history of mankind.
The museum also promotes the Immigrant Festival in June, offering typical food, products, and dances of different cultures. The Immigration Museum is located at Visconde de Parnaíba Street, 1316, Mooca.
When you visit these sights, you will understand that the culture of the largest city in Brazil is built under the influence of Brazilians from all states and foreigners from various corners of the world. Enjoy!