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Ibirapuera Park is a large urban park in the middle of the enormous metropolis that is São Paulo. Despite constant reminders that the city is never far away, such as the skyline of skyscrapers that can be seen from any point in the park, it is one of the few retreats into nature that São Paulo has to offer residents seeking refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life. Yet it’s more than a park; it is also an important cultural center that celebrates art and music. Here are 10 things to know before visiting.
The Biennial Pavilion becomes host to São Paulo Fashion Week in January for the winter collection and again in July for the summer collection and is one of the most important events on the fashion scene, bringing some of the world’s top models to São Paulo. The pavilion is also host to the Biennial of Arts and the Biennial of Architecture, and the venue for several congresses and trade shows.
Stretching to a total of 391 acres (1,584,000 square meters), Ibirapuera Park has plenty of room to house some of São Paulo’s most interesting and popular museums. The Oca do Ibirapuera is famous for hosting large exhibitions such as the biggest exhibition on Picasso in Latin America and the Dinos na Oca exhibition featuring over 400 dinosaurs bones, fossils, and artifacts. The Japanese Pavilion displays Japanese art, pottery, sculptures, and samurai clothes, and also has a tearoom and a carp pond.
The Museum of Modern Art houses more than 4,000 contemporary Brazilian artworks and also hosts late-night, outdoor raves on the weekend. The Museum of Contemporary Art has more than 8,000 pieces of Western art from the 20th century onwards and the Afro-Brazil Museum celebrates the cultural achievements of Africans in Brazil, including displays that showcase the work of black painters, writers, and politicians.
Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil’s most famous architect, designed the Ibirapuera Auditorium in the park, which is a venue for music shows. It also hosted the 2008 Latin Grammy Awards and the final of cycle 12 of America’s Next Top Model. The white building is instantly identifiable from the bright-red marquee that juts out above the entrance.
Eduardo Kobra is the artist behind the world’s largest street mural in Rio de Janeiro, created in celebration of the 2016 Olympics. In 2014, Kobra was invited to create a mural in Ibirapuera Park to mark its 60th anniversary. His works include a painting of an old person, a smiling child, and a kissing couple, to highlight the diversity of visitors to the park, all painted in his signature realism mixed with geometric shapes.
In celebration of São Paulo’s 400th birthday, Ibirapuera Park was opened in 1954 and was designed by agronomist Otávio Agusto de Teixeira Mendes. When ownership of the park was declared by the municipality in 1906 (prior to this, it was indigenous land), the region was a large swamp. In the 1920s, trees were planted to help firm the ground and make the area more accessible.
According to local statistics, over 10 million people visit the park each year. From Monday to Friday, about 20,000 people a day visit; on Saturdays, about 70,000 people; and on Sunday, a whopping 130,000 people visit on just one day.
A large city can be short on running, cycling, and skateboarding options, but in São Paulo, Ibirapuera Park is a popular outdoor space where you can exercise out in the open. There is a running path that edges the perimeter of the property and takes runners through wooded areas and past the large lake in the middle. Cyclists can enjoy the wide asphalt paths that encircle the lake and skaters can head to the skatepark for ramps and obstacles to jump over.
Throughout the park, there are plenty of small kiosks and stands that sell a range of on-the-go snacks and drinks such as beers, water, soft drinks, and fresh coconuts. Alternatively, the park is the perfect place for a picnic, so you can bring your own food and drink and find a spot to spend a pleasant afternoon.
The park is located at Av Pedro Álvares Cabral, Av IV Centenário, and Av República do Líbano. You can get there by car or walk from the subway. The nearest subway stations are Santa Cruz, Vila Mariana, Ana Rosa, Paraíso, and Brigadeiro and the park is within walking distance of all of them.
Ibirapuera Park is open from 5 a.m. to midnight, Monday to Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, it’s open 24 hours a day.