Continuing from where we left off, here are the highlights of Republica tour, that begins at Republica Metro Station.
Amazingly, Praça da República (Republic Square) has had its share of bullfights back in the day.
Cine Marabá (Maraba Cinema) is one of the oldest cinemas in town. It opened in 1944 and the region around it was called Cinelândia Paulistana.
Bar Brahma (Brahma Bar) is a traditional commercial establishment founded in 1948. It became a gathering point for politicians and artists (former presidents Janio Quadros and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and musicians Adoniran Barbosa and Ari Barroso, etc.).
The most famous crossing of Brazil: Ipiranga Avenue X Sao Joao Avenue, immortalized in Caetano Velloso’s song Sampa.
Galeria Olido (Olido Gallery) is a cultural center inaugurated in 2004, after the restoration of the former Cine Olido (Olido Cinema), a luxurious cinema which closed at the beginning of the XXI century.
The famous Galeria do Rock (Rock Gallery) is officially called “Centro Comercial Grandes Galerias” (Great Mall Galleries Commercial Centre), taking after Oscar Niemeyer ‘s curvaceous lines and designed by Alfredo Mathias. The first tenants appeared in 1963 and were tailors, shoemakers and other service providers. The LPs, or vinyl, that came in the late ’70s were responsible for changing the business into a music mall. Currently there are 450 stores, 218 specific targeted at rock, becoming known worldwide as the place with the highest concentration of establishments dedicated to rock. Famous figures like Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden’s lead singer), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana’s lead singer), Raul Seixas and Sepultura have entered its halls.
The Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Homens Pretos (Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men) was built for free by black people. There is a statue of a “black mother” in front of it, honouring all wet nurses of the wealthy coffee barons, who were usually black women. People leave flowers at her feet in respect.
The Palácio dos Correios (Post Office Palace) was designed by architect Ramos de Azevedo and inaugurated in 1920. It is one of the oldest buildings which still retains its original function.
There are many pedestrianised streets that head towards Vale do Anhangabaú (Anhangabau Valley), centre of many manifestations and events in our city.
The Altino Arantes building – topped by a flag – is also know as the headquarters of Banespa (former bank), opened in 1947. Designed by architect Plinio Botelho do Amaral, it was fashioned like the iconic Empire State Building in New York. It is 161 meters high – being the third highest of São Paulo. The Martinelli building was the first skyscraper in South America, built in 1929. At the top you can see the palace of Giuseppe Martinelli, its former owner.
Complexo da Praça das Artes (Arts Square Complex) is a cultural complex designed by Brasil Arquitetura, next to the Municipal Theatre and right in the heart of Anhangabau Valley.
Besides attending to the lack of training space for the Theatre’s artists, it performs a strategic role by inducing the regeneration of the central area of Sampa, usually overlooked by the public administration as a no-man’s land, a place where the homeless and drug addicts abound.
Walking upwards from Anhangabau Valley towards Praça Ramos de Azevedo (Ramos de Azevedo Square), you can find the Monumento a Carlos Gomes (Monument to Carlos Gomes) and the Fonte dos Desejos (Fountain of Wishes). Carlos Gomes was the most important Brazilian opera composer, author of the opera O Guarani. He was the first Brazilian composer to have his works performed at Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, Italy.
The Fountain and the stairs are comprised of allegories and statues of characters from Carlos Gomes’s most important operas. At the top, sits the bronze statue of the composer, flanked by allegories of music and poetry, carved in Carrara marble. Below, in the center of the fountain, a sculpture group called Glória (Glory), consists of a female figure – the Republic – on the celestial sphere with the positivist inscription “Order and Progress” (national motto which can be found in our flag), riding a group of three winged horses and fins. In 1957, Mayor Adhemar de Barros received the Italian writer Mercedes La Valle, who handed him a bottle with water from Fontana di Trevi. During a ceremony at the Monument to Carlos Gomes, the mayor poured the water in the fountain, giving her the name of Fountain of Wishes.
The water was supposed to be spouting through the nostrils of the bronze horses but I have never seen water in the Fountain. My guess is they turned it off so the homeless wouldn’t bathe in it.
The Teatro Municipal (Municipal Theater) is one of the most important theaters in the city and one of the postcards of Sampa, both for its architectural style, similar to that of the most important theaters in the world and clearly inspired by the Paris Opera, and for its historical importance, having been the venue for the Week of Modern Art in 1922, the ground zero of Modernism in Brazil.
The theater was built to meet the desire of the Paulistana elite, who wanted their city to stand side by side with the great cultural centers of the era, as well as promoting opera and concert. It currently houses the Municipal Symphonic Orchestra of Sao Paulo, the Experimental Repertoire Orchestra, the Lyric Coral, the Paulistano Coral and the Ballet of Sao Paulo.
On the other side of the Theatre, there is a preserved sample of the streetcar tracks that once crisscrossed the centre of Sao Paulo.
Shopping Light was opened in late 1999, after being the headquarters of Light & Power and Eletropaulo (electric company of Sampa to this day). The building was originally called Alexander Mackenzie and was designed by the American architects Preston and Curtis. It was built between 1925 and 1929. Its main architectural features were preserved in the new shopping.
Biblioteca Mário de Andrade (Mario de Andrade Public Library) is the main public library in Sampa. Opened in 1925, it is considered one of the architectural landmarks of the art deco style in the city. It holds the second largest collection of documents and literature of the country – only t behind he National Library of Rio de Janeiro. Its collection includes approximately 3.3 million titles covering all areas of human knowledge and retains a broad set of incunabula, manuscripts,engravings, maps and other rare works, mostly produced between the XV and XIX centuries.
Copan is one of the most important and emblematic buildings of Sao Paulo. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the building resembles a wave. It has 115 meters high, 35 floors and two basements, comprising about two thousand residents.
It is considered the largest reinforced concrete structure in Brazil and the largest residential building in Latin America.
Circolo Italiano, better known as Edifício Itália (Italy Building), is the second tallest structure in Sao Paulo with 165 meters (151 m from street level) distributed among 46 floors. Opened in 1965, it is currently one of the landmarks of the city, as one of the greatest examples of vertical Brazilian architecture. It has a restaurant located at the top, known as Terraço Itália (Italy Terrace), which allows a 360-degree view of the city, being one of the biggest attractions of Sampa.
The tour finished 3 hours later, at the very starting point: Republica Metro Station. It was very entertaining and everyone loved it, although we were all a bit tired due to the summer heat. Take a bottle of water with you and enjoy the tour!