02 February 2009

In Country: Sao Paulo Street Scenes

This church sits in Praca da Se (known as Cathedral Square), which is considered to be the heart of the oldest part of Sao Paulo. The church is called Catedral da Se and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in the city. This particular building took over 40 years to be constructed, beginning in 1913. The architectural style is known as neo-Gothic with its tall spires, pointed arches over the windows and on the tympanum, and extensive use of stained glass. It is, however, a 20th century invention which is what earns it the "neo" (meaning new) designation.

Although this structure was built within the last 100 years, the church site has a long history. In 1589 Jesuits Manuel da Nobrega and Jose' de Anchieta made an arrangement with the local indigenous leader, a guy by the name of Tibirica', to establish a small church in the village. Since then the church site has been retained even though the church itself has been torn down and rebuilt multiple times. Today it is the largest church in Sao Paulo.

At the other end of the Cathedral Square sits this statue to honor Jose' de Anchieta, one of the Jesuit missionaries who came from Spain at the age of 19 to convert the inhabitants of the New World. He is also considered to be the founder of Sao Paulo and a prolific writer. Many call him the father of Brasilian literature, although I can't figure out why he's not considered a Spanish writer in South America.

Construction on the Theatro Municipal began in 1903. Today this structure hosts classical music and operatic performances yet it, like the Catedral da Se above, are in really seedy parts of town. Although not depicted well in these photos there are clusters of street kids, drug addicts and even homeless families using these historic buildings as their neighborhood. If you look closely you can see a man in a green shirt laying on the ground just below the statue of Jose' de Anchieta. Although David is in the foreground, behind him in the distance is a homeless family laying under the tree. We encountered several of them in this part of the city. Take away lesson: Sao Paulo is a hard city to live in if you are poor.

Because we were here on a Sunday afternoon, the crowds along this avenue were relatively light. This is a side view of the Theatro Municipal.

To the west of the Praca da Se is another plaza known as the Praca de Republica. On Sundays a faire hippie is held here with lots of artisan crafts, clothing, shoes, and jewelry. This building, one of Oscar Neimeyer's designs with its characteristic curves, sits just across the plaza.

Another building adjacent to the Praca da Republica. I loved the reflection of the buildings and the clouds in its facade.
Food court scene at the faire hippie.

1 comment:

Jenna said...

I have been to these very places. We also saw a lot of homeless living in this part of the city. The fair in Praca da Republica is great.