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The Best Churches to See in Sao Paulo

Picture of Niall McGrade
Updated: 28 April 2017
One of the world’s most populous and vibrant cities, São Paulo naturally as plenty of sights. Considering the fact that it was founded by Jesuit priests, it’s not surprising that the city also has a plethora of churches and chapels. We take a look at five of the best, from the site of the city’s foundation to a church built only a few decades ago.

Igreja Nossa Senhora Do Brasil

Built in 1940, this Baroque-style church is dedicated to Our Lady of Brazil. It might look familiar – the design of the church draws upon aspects of other amazing churches and brings them together into one design. Its ceramic panels look like St. Basil’s in Moscow; its towers bears resemblance to Muslim minarets; the interior recalls churches in Portugal, while the ceiling is covered in reproductions of the Sistine Chapel‘s paintings.

Igreja de São Francisco de Assi

From the outside, there’s nothing particularly special about this church. Step inside, however, and you’re greeted by a spectacular scene of white and gold. The church is dominated by white walls, metallic trim and saintly statues under a bowed roof with subtle paintings of heaven. The unimposing exterior is easy to pass by, but it would be a serious shame to miss this diamond in the rough.

Pateo do Collegio Church

In Portugese, Pateo do Collegio simply means ‘school yard’. It’s the name given to the school, the church, and the square. The first event that led to São Paulo was the Jesuit mass in 1544, in a hut covered with leaves. After several iterations, it settled on its final (and current) form. There is a museum dedicated to Father José de Anchieta, a significant Jesuit figure, but the true reason to visit is for the centuries of history and change that are palpable on the site.

Catedral de Se de São Paulo

This cathedral might have a Renaissance-style dome, but it still holds the title of being one of the largest Neo-Gothic cathedral in the world. With a capacity of more than 8,000, it is also the largest church in the city. Below the main altar is the crypt, which can be considered a church on its own merits. Two bronze tombs are of particular note, but the crypt contains the tombs of every bishop and archbishop from São Paulo.


Catedral Metropolitana Ortodoxa

Inspired by Istanbul‘s Hagia Sophia, this Eastern Orthodox cathedral is dedicated to St. Paul. One of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals in the world, it is an amazing example of Byzantine architecture. Its decadent altar and artwork are seriously impressive, and its iconostasis is solid marble, unlike the wood of most Orthodox churches, bringing extra touch of grandeur to the table.