Didem Doğan

Centro: walking in the old town of Sao Paulo

Yes, São Paulo has an old town! It is where the city was founded five hundred years ago. Neo classical and baroque buildings, art centers, theatres, patisseries, walls with graffitis, it has this air that you may not notice at other parts of the city, let’s say it has a character. At nigh time it may look a little empty and you may need to take care of your belongings but during the day it is quite lively. We start our walk at the Municipal Theatre. A beautiful Opera House with all the glamour you can find in one of the European examples. It has become almost the postcard frame of the city. The Opera House hosts classical music concerts and it is the head of Sao Paulo Symphonic Orchestra as well as the City Choir and Ballet. Check the programme on its website. Another art centre that is linked to the Theatre is the Praça das Arte, the Arts Square which is a couple of hundred meters behind the theatre. We pass the Praça de Acevedo Square and watch the skyline where palm trees and skyscrapers cross each other. This big square has a pedestrian area below. The walls show some of the examples of the best graffitis in town. As we pass the square we can now head into the streets of the old town. CCBB is the Cultural Centre of the Bank of Brazil, where we visit the legendary painter Basquiat’s exhibition, who is now accepted as one of the pioneers of street art. Most of the events in CCBB are free of charge. We go out and walk to the right. At the corner we find the traditional Portuguese patisserie, the House of Mathilde. We then go back and cross again the Azevedo Square. This time walking parallel to the Municipal Theatre we pass the Arts Square’s court and then come again to the Theatre. Walking this time towards the Republica Square, we pass city’s first public library Biblioteca de Mario de Andrade. A tall sculpture holding an open book greats us at the entrance hall. You may spend hours here inside the library or outside the terrace. One gets surprised as he sees so many public spaces in this commercial metropole that at first site looks only made of offices and skyscrapers.There is indeed so many art galleries, spaces free of charge that you can spend time in Sao Paulo. We end the walking tour in Republica Square which is another important point in the old town.