Head for the beating heart of São Paulo on this busy thoroughfare where everything happens. Paulista Avenue is one of the busiest and longest avenues in the city. From movie theaters to shopping malls and parks to cultural centers—you name it, this street has it. Come here on a Sunday and you'll enjoy a car-free stroll down this bustling road that's a hotspot for tourists and locals alike.
The commercial center
The history of the avenue begins when São Paulo was a key city in the coffee trade. In the 1890s, the city's coffee barons, fed up of living in cramped streets, commissioned a vast residential avenue. Avenida Paulista was dedicated to the local population (Paulista means "resident of São Paulo") and soon began to be filled with mansions, some of which still stand today, such as the Franco de Melo family residence at number 1919 and the Rodrigues Alves state school. However, the coffee industry in Brazil would collapse and the city would become more industrialized and urbanized. Many of the mansions were knocked down to make way for apartment complexes and offices. During this period, famous landmarks such as the São Paulo Museum of Art and the Conjunto Nacional were built on the avenue. In the 1980s and '90s, Paulista Avenue's status as the new center of São Paulo was confirmed, with major banks such as Safra and Citibank building their headquarters there. Today, massive public events take place on the Avenue, such as the huge New Year's Eve celebrations and the annual LGBT Pride Parade, the largest of its kind in the world.
Visiting Paulista Avenue
Exploring the avenue is possible any day of the week but it's recommended to visit on Sunday afternoons when it's closed to traffic. There's a large cycle lane along the entire length of the avenue that you can use to get around if you enjoy biking. Enjoy first class shopping at one of several large-scale shopping malls on the street, some of which are now designated historic buildings. The mall has the biggest international brands, coffee shops, restaurants, and movie theaters. Alternatively, you may prefer a cultural experience. One such option is the São Paulo Museum of Art, known for its collection of European and Brazilian paintings, sketches, and sculptures by Renoir, Picasso, and Modernist Brazilian artists. Stop to admire its modern architecture; the exhibition room is made of a single block of concrete and glass windows, supported by two vertical concrete columns, with a stunning view of the Cantareira mountain range to the north. Wander down the street and you'll see a variety of street artists performing, while grabbing a table at one of the many bars will allow you unrivaled people watching opportunities.