Historical Churches and Cathedrals (Self Guided), Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo is an important religious center in Brazil. There are many beautiful churches and cathedrals built in a traditional, old colonial style. Most of them are Catholic-affiliated, but you will also find a few Orthodox. The following self-guided walking tour will lead you through these sacred places.
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Historical Churches and Cathedrals Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches and Cathedrals
Guide Location: Brazil » Sao Paulo (See other walking tours in Sao Paulo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 4
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Sao Bento Monastery
  • The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men
  • Church of St. Ifigenia
Metropolitan Cathedral

1) Metropolitan Cathedral (must see)

The Metropolitan Cathedral, often called the Catedral da Se, is home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sao Paulo. The building features a Neo-Gothic style and stained glass windows. Its construction began in 1913 and ended four decades later. Despite having a Renaissance-styled dome, the Cathedral is considered by some to be the 4th largest neo-gothic cathedral in the world.

It has one of the largest organs in South America and several artistic renditions of the Virgin Mary. Many bishops and archbishops are buried in the tombs. Two of the most important crypts are the vault of Father Diogo Antônio Feijó and the Chieftan Tibirica. Tibirica helped to welcome the first Jesuits to the Piratininga Plateau and to found the villa of Sao Paulo. Father Feijó was head of state during the infancy of Emperor Pedro.

The current structure is the third version of the cathedral. The first church was in service from 1598 to 1616 until it was demolished for a new building. The second building was in use from 1764 to 1911, and the third place of worship was constructed in 1913. It is 111 meters long and has a seating capacity of 8,000. After a long period of decay, the Cathedral underwent a complete renovation between 2000 and 2002. Apart from repairing the building, many pinnacles over the nave and towers were completed. The original 1912 construction plans were found inside the building, allowing for a faithful restoration.

Why You Should Visit:
Just to observe the details of the huge doors and niches with sculptures is worth a stop; however, on the inside, the mix of modern and ancient has been achieved remarkably well and the tour to the crypts is unique.

Tourists beware: the plaza where the Cathedral is located is home to drug addicts, grifters and beggars, so it is advised to visit only during the day and use a low-key approach. The contrast between the sacred and the profane is an eye opener and an interesting portrait of this city of huge contrasts.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Sao Bento Monastery

2) Sao Bento Monastery (must see)

When visiting Sao Paulo, one must make an effort to visit the São Bento Monastery. This monastery features delicious pastries personally baked by the monks. In addition, they offer musical concerts and events, workshops, and perform Gregorian chants at mass daily. The architect was Richard Blend. The interior of the place of worship was designed by D. Adelbert Gresnicht. It is the oldest institution in Sao Paulo.

Although the exterior of the building is fairly simple, the interior of the church is beautifully decorated with woodwork, sculptures, and paintings. A clear German influence can be seen inside the building. There are no words that can accurately describe just how stunning the cathedral is. One must visit in person to truly understand.

A brunch is held on last Sunday of each month. It is at this feast where the delicious pastries and breads are served, along with a tasty meal. The pastries are very popular with the public. Patrons have the option, while dining, to purchase works of art.

The monastery is conveniently located on 25 de Marco Street, a very popular shopping area and is close to the São Bento subway station. Visitors will also enjoy the monastery shop, where more pastries can be bought, the nearby Bar Salve Jorge, and the Café Girondino.

Why You Should Visit:
The floor, the ceiling, the walls, the altar and the domes will keep calling you to have a second and third and tenth look at their beautiful art.
The services, the office in Gregorian chant sung by the monks, are very beautiful, several times a day. There's even Latin mass on Sundays, with organ and Gregorian chant.

Don't miss the bakery full of ancient monks recipes such as the wine cake and their handmade bread, nor the gift shop as they have real treasures there!
Additionally, there's a huge bell on top of the church, which is accessible, and a mysterious underground tunnel (ask the priests).
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men

3) The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men

Africans have been a part of Brazilian culture since the 16th century when they were brought to the country as slaves to work on the many plantations. In addition, African culture has merged seamlessly with the Catholic religion, the European culture, and is an integral part of the fiber of Brazil.

The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men, also known as Largo Paicandu Church, demonstrates this admixture. Located on the R. das Portas do Carmo, construction of the house of worship was completed in 1820. The church was needed because black slaves were denied entry into European churches. The place of worship is decorated with the images of black saints. Two famous saints you will see when you visit are Saint Anthony of Catigerona, an African, and Saint Benedict, a Moor.

What is impressive about this majestic blue structure is that the slaves built it themselves and provided their own materials. Construction of the church began in 1704 and took over 100 years to complete. The design of the church is Baroque. There are three altars, one of which has gold engraving. The building is a beautiful example of 17th century design. It is worth a visit just to see the Tuesday Mass at 6 pm that features African drumming and Yoruba ceremonies.
Church of St. Ifigenia

4) Church of St. Ifigenia (must see)

Located near the Anhangabaú Valley, the current Church of Santa Ifigenia was built on the site of one of the oldest chapels of the city, the Chapel of Our Lady of Conception, built before 1720. This first chapel was renovated in 1794, and by disposition of the prince regent Don João VI, in 1809 the parish of Our Lady of the Conception and Santa Ifigenia appeared.

Between 1930 and 1954, due to the construction of the cathedral of St. Paul, the church of Santa Ifigenia served as cathedral of the city. On April 18, 1958, the church was elevated to the rank of basilica, under the name of Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament, by Pope Pius XII. It was protected by the Municipal Council of Historic, Cultural and Environmental Preservation of the City of Sao Paulo (CONPRESP) in 1992.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the oldest chapels in Sao Paulo, with all ceilings painted, preserved stained glass, and beautiful floor; a little weathered and dark inside but cozy in its simplicity and very picturesque.

Plan your visit on weekdays during business hours as it is a desert area at night.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Create Your Own Walk in Sao Paulo

Create Your Own Walk in Sao Paulo

Creating your own self-guided walk in Sao Paulo is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 Miles