Cartel 011 Off the bandwagon, onto the cart(el)

Don’t try to pigeonhole this place. Part art gallery, part design store, part restaurant, part co-working space, we could go on…but basically it’s exploding with ideas and energy. From product launches to music sessions, there’s always something going on at Cartel 011. Founded in 2009 with the intention of transforming the urban environment, it’s a case of so far, so bloody brilliant.

Espaço Unibanco de Cinema Waiting for Godard

This cinephile heaven projects a carefully chosen selection of international indie and art films in its five screening rooms. Espaço Unibanco de Cinema is divided into two spaces, one on either side of Rua Augusta. Both feature friendly cafés to help ease any pre-movie impatience; the side with screens 1, 2 and 3 boasts a fine film book shop as well.

As well as its busy daily schedule, Espaço Unibanco de Cinema hosts premiers and events like the Mostra Internacional de Cinema de São Paulo (the city’s international film festival). All films are, of course, shown in the original language with Portuguese subtitles.

Thursday screenings are offered at a discount but it is on the last Friday of every month that the Espaço Unibanco de Cinema really kicks back: during the Odisséia de Cinema (“Cinema Odyssey”), punters can watch a triple bill (including one “suprise” film) for the price of a single feature. It’s quality cinema till dawn, accompanied by a bucket of popcorn, a can of Guaraná pop and heck, why not, a glass of whisky. Breakfast is served at the end of this marathon.

Pinacoteca do Estado History stripped down to the essentials

If art theft is a country in the world of crime, then the Pinacoteca do Estado was its capital in June 2008, when an armed heist resulted in the temporary disappearance of two Picassos.

At this state-owned museum, criminal activity is not quite the anathema it might seem: for more than 50 years, the Pinacoteca acted as the “Police Station of Order and Social Politics”. Now it houses exhibitions commemorating the prisoners who languished in its cells, as well as an extensive archive of engravings (2,000 are made available to the public) and an excellently curated collection of artwork by 19th and 20th century Brazilian artists.

The Pinacoteca aims to expose the connections between the old world and the new—a concept embodied, brilliantly, in its building. Built in 1905 and refurbished in 1977, it combines metal catwalks with ageing bricks, a glass ceiling and neoclassical corridors.

The sculpture garden in the park that stretches out behind the museum (the Praça da Luz) is also a treat, as is the terrace at the self-service Café Estação Pinacoteca. The best seats are beside an enormous fig tree, where autodidacts can study an architectural plan of London’s Tate Modern.

Parque do Ibirapuera Central park

A quiet stroll through Parque do Ibirapuera (Ibirapuera Park) means encountering one modernist masterpiece after another—the Auditório Ibirapuera and the Bienal Building (both by Oscar Niemeyer), the Museo de Arte Moderna (Lina Bo Bardi). A visit to the Museum Of African Culture, then a fresh Aqua De Coco from one of the streetside stalls and the transformation is complete: here sits a true oasis in the concrete desert.

Green meadow beckon to footballers of every stripe; ancient trees whisper in the wind; the lakeside offers many lovely spots to sit and read (perhaps a book from the park’s public library), share a picnic or simply watch the birds fly off into the high blue sky.

And if all that isn’t enough, stop by in September. The blooming Jacaranda alley will turn even the sternest of viewers into a starry-eyed romantic.

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