By Siobhan Reid
August 19, 2019
Getty Images

São Paulo, Brazil’s financial and industrial hub, is finding its artistic stride.

For evidence, look no further than Avenida Paulista — the city’s main thoroughfare, home to the likes of Citibank and Banco Safra, where world-class museums have sprung up among the corporate headquarters.

PHOTO: FOTO ARENA LTDA/ALAMY

Start your cultural tour at IMS Paulista, a new branch of the major Brazilian cultural organization Instituto Moreira Salles. Recent exhibitions at the strikingly modern museum have included a retrospective on the Brazilian photographer Marc Ferrez and a visual tribute to the city of São Paulo, told through black-and-white shots by homegrown artists like Militão Augusto de Azevedo and Alice Brill.

A short walk away is the Kengo Kuma-designed flagship of Japan House, which has an intricate, jigsaw-like façade made from hundred-year-old hinoki trees. Dedicated to exploring Brazil’s rich Japanese history — the country is home to 1.8 million of Japanese heritage, the largest community outside Japan — the museum features two exhibition spaces and a library, as well as a fusion restaurant helmed by acclaimed Paulisto chef Jun Sakamoto.

And last year saw the opening of SESC Avenida Paulista, an initiative by Brazil’s Social Service of Commerce to promote cultural education within the country. Occupying some 17 floors, the multi-use space hosts art exhibitions, concerts, plays, and more.

Business hotels are the main lodging on Avenida Paulista, but some of the city’s best properties are just a short walk away in other parts of the Jardins district. The 50-room Fasano São Paulo, a flagship of Brazil’s premier family-owned hotel brand, occupies a 1940s-style building on Rua Vittorio Fasano. In addition to polished teak and plush leather interiors, it also houses Restaurante Fasano, a bastion of fine Italian cuisine in the city since 1982.

PHOTO: PAULO FRIDMAN/GETTY IMAGES

Nearby, on Rua Oscar Freire, you’ll find the glassy, light-filled Emiliano, perfectly situated for visiting the neighborhood’s best galleries. And the art-filled Hotel Unique, closer to the Parque Ibirapuera is impossible to miss — the boat-shaped, chrome-and-glass building lives up to its name.

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