Parque do Ibirapuera
Paulistanos’ equivalent of Central Park is Parque do Ibirapuera (entrances on Av. Pedro Alvares Cabral, Av. República do Libano, and Av. IV Centenario, tel. 11/5574-5177, 5 a.m.–midnight daily, free), a sweeping 160-hectare (395-acre) expanse of green that Paulistanos unironically refer to as their “praia” (beach). Indeed, on any given sunny, summer weekend its tree-shaded lawns are so blanketed by sprawlers, tanners, readers, and picnickers that the comparison is not far-fetched.
Created in the 1950s to commemorate Sampa’s 400th anniversary, the Parque do Ibirapuera project was headed by two stellar talents of the day: Oscar Niemeyer and Roberto Burle Marx. Various curvy, concrete, well-illuminated Niemeyer pavilions today house a handful of topnotch museums, earning the area the nickname of “Museulândia.” Contrasting with the futuristic buildings, Burle Marx’s inspired landscaping mingles sweeping lawns with ponds, wooded areas, and bursts of flowers and tropical foliage.
There is also a planetarium, a Japanese pavilion modeled after the Katsura Imperial Palace in Kyoto, and a Bosque de Leitura (Reading Woods), where on Sundays you can borrow books from a portable library and take to the trees for some reading.
Music lovers can rock out at the free open-air concerts often held at a Roman-style amphitheater or enjoy more erudite melodies at the Niemeyer-designed Auditório Ibirapuera.
The athletically inclined can rent bikes, or go jogging, skateboarding, or rollerblading along scenic trails, but be aware that they can become congested with toned and trim locals.
Dominating the Praça General Estilac Leal is the dramatic Monumento às Bandeirantes. The work of renowned modernist sculptor Victor Brecheret, this imposing granite landmark pays homage to the intrepid 16th- and 17th- century adventurers of Portuguese origin (the bandeirantes) who opened up much of Brazil’s interior.
Getting to Parque do Ibirapuera
The easiest way to get to Parque do Ibirapuera is to take the Metrô to Brigadeiro station. Then take one of many buses or walk (around 30 minutes) down Avenida Brigadeiro Luís Antônio until you reach Portão 9, one of numerous entrances to the park.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition