Praça da República is a nice urban park with tall trees and a small lagoon – a great escape from the bustling urban jungle that is São Paulo. There are a few attractions located near the park.
One building on the park is the Secretária de Estado da Educação (Secretary of State for Education). It was built in 1894 as the Escola Normal Caetano de Campos, a school that occupied the building until 1978.
A short walk southwest of the park down Avenida Ipiranga is one of the city’s most famous skyscrapers. We attempted to go to the top of Edificio Itália, the 2nd tallest building in São Paulo at 46 stories. It was built in 1965 and named in honor of the thousands of Italian immigrants who moved to the city.
Visiting Edifício Itália was a bad experience and a bad idea overall. We had to take two elevators to the top but then found out the observation deck is open only for one hour, from 3-4pm. There is also a restaurant with equally fantastic views. We sat down at the restaurant and ordered some food and drinks. The waiter then informed us there was a cover charge of BRA$30 on top of the food charge. We ended up walking out. After leaving the restaurant and walking to the elevator in the lobby, the hostess arrogantly smiled at us and proceeded to rope off the staircase with a large window and a wonderful view of São Paulo. Is it THAT privileged of a view? Two things – if we had been informed before sitting down about the cover charge, it might not have been a problem. Also, I would have gladly paid an admission fee just to walk around and take pictures. I don’t know – the whole experience rubbed me the wrong way. Either come between 3-4pm or skip it and stick with Edifício Altino Arantes. I did manage to snap a few photos from a window while waiting for the elevator to go down.
A bit further down Avenida Ipiranga is Igreja Nossa Senhora da Consolação, built in 1840. This was a nice surprise. The exterior doesn’t look like much, but the interior is decorated with colorful frescoes and marble.
In the other direction from Praça da República, a five minute walk up a pedestrian street, Rua Barão de Itapetininga, took us to the Theatro Municipal. It opened in 1911 and is probably the most beautiful of the older buildings we saw in São Paulo. The theatre is next to a bridge that spans over Parque Anhangabau and leads to the heart of the city center. Parque Anhangabau is the largest park in the city center.