Ical ting pot

The Pullman Magazine - - Travel -

No mat­ter how you ar­rive in São Paulo, ex­pect to be greeted by a city that's larger than life. This is a city that never sleeps, a city that's ever-chang­ing and con­stantly in mo­tion, a city whose pop­u­la­tion of barely 30 thou­sand back in 1872 has grown to a mas­sive 12 mil­lion to­day. The pedes­tri­an­ized streets be­tween Largo de São Bento, Largo de São Fran­cisco and Praça da Sé form the his­toric old town where the now-rare ves­tiges of the city's colo­nial past, dat­ing back to the 16th cen­tury, rub shoul­ders with a mis­matched se­lec­tion of im­pos­ing art deco build­ings, hint­ing at the district's for­mer vibe. Dot­ted here and there are the tow­er­ing sky­scrapers that marked the on­set of the city's up­ward ex­pan­sion, sym­bol­is­ing the as­cent of its thriv­ing mi­grant pop­u­la­tions, start­ing with the Ital­ians: the Martinelli, the Altino Arantes and the Itália... Just a stone's throw away is shop­per's paradise, 25 de Março, orig­i­nally the cra­dle of the Syro-Le­banese pop­u­la­tion and now the place to which every­one flocks to snap up bar­gains from the lively street mar­ket. Fur­ther north, Luz rail­way sta­tion (1901), built in the ar­chi­tec­tural style of West­min­ster (it even boasts its own Big Ben!), bears tes­ta­ment to the down­turn in the cof­fee trade, one of the main­stays of the re­gion's econ­omy un­til the 1930s. It was here that European work­ers trav­el­ling in from the port of San­tos would get their first taste of the city. Bustling and buzzing by day, the area rapidly be­comes de­serted by night, with the ex­cep­tion of a few pres­ti­gious cul­tural venues such as the Theatro Mu­nic­i­pal or the Sala São Paulo, along with a hand­ful of bars and restau­rants known only to the se­lect few.

Head fur­ther south and ex­pe­ri­ence a rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent vibe on strolling be­neath the arch­way into Rua Galvão Bueno. The Liber­dade District is home to São Paulo's Ja­panese pop­u­la­tion, es­ti­mated to stand at 1.6 mil­lion – the largest Ja­panese com­mu­nity in the world. In April and July, the tra­di­tional Flower Fes­ti­val and Star Fes­ti­val bring all the asian com­mu­ni­ties to­gether. Fur­ther west, Bix­iga and Bela Vista are where the ma­jor­ity of Ital­ian im­mi­grants have set up home, their in­flu­ence om­nipresent in the sing-song Paulista ac­cent echo­ing the penin­sula's many di­alects, and in the con­tin­ued cel­e­bra­tion of Catholic fes­ti­vals, such as the San Gen­naro fes­ti­val in Mooca and the Santa Achi­ro­pita fes­ti­val in Bix­iga. Nu­mer­ous eater­ies along two of the lo­cal streets - Treze de Maio and Rui Bar­bosa – serve po­lenta, lasagne and polpet­tone, not to men­tion a whole host of other Ital­ian spe­cial­i­ties. This work­ing class, bo­hemian neigh­bour­hood is also home to one of São Paulo's old­est samba schools: the Vai-Vai.


No cos­mopoli­tan tour of São Paulo would be com­plete with­out tak­ing in the Par­que Ibi­ra­puera, de­signed by Niemeyer and Burle Marx. The park is a true cel­e­bra­tion of the Paulista cul­tural melt­ing-pot, with its Afro-Brazil­ian Mu­seum, Ja­panese Pavil­ion and mon­u­ment to the Ban­deiras, a huge sculp­ture hon­our­ing the for­mi­da­ble and in­trepid mixed-race set­tlers whose en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit rec­og­nize in them­selves. The park is also home to the city's con­tem­po­rary and mod­ern art mu­se­ums.

Though the mi­grants of yes­ter­year pri­mar­ily flocked to São Paulo from the other side of the At­lantic, to­day they mainly ar­rive from the con­ti­nent. The Ital­ians and Jews who tra­di­tion­ally lived in Brás and Bom Re­tiro are grad­u­ally be­ing re­placed by Nordeste and Bo­li­vian work­ers, bring­ing with them their cos­tumes, celebrations and cui­sine. The Im­mi­gra­tion Mu­seum in Brás doc­u­ments all these im­por­tant cul­tural shifts that make São Paulo what it is to­day. Be­cause above and be­yond its di­ver­sity, what makes São Paulo more spe­cial than ever, is its out­stand­ing power of as­sim­i­la­tion, en­sur­ing it con­stantly evolves whilst nonethe­less re­main­ing true to its roots.


São Paulo’s Ja­panese com­mu­nity dates back to the 19th cen­tury and is par­tic­u­larly strong in the Liber­dade District.

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