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Sao Paulo - Brazil's Largest City

São Paulo is the world's 6th largest city and the largest in Brazil.

Settled in 1532 as a New World Colony by the Portuguese, the city's Latin motto is Non dvcor, dvco, which translates as "I am not led, I lead."

The metropolis is Brazil's centre for commerce and finance as well as arts and entertainment and is the most cosmopolitan city in the country.

An economic power-house by day, the city transforms at night with top restaurants serving fine dining and impressive cultural and arts scenes.

Some say that São Paulo is a polluted, noisy, smog-filled concrete jungle but there is so much more to this vibrant city especially around the annual Sao Paulo Carnival time

For motor racing fans the Brazilian Grand Prix is held at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace (formely Interlagos) circut just at the edge of the city.

Staying with sport and looking forward a little, Brazil will host the 2014 Fifa World Cup.

Top 5 things to do in Sao Paulo

Catedral da Se

The São Paulo Cathedral stands at the site of earlier churches, the first being built in 1588.

Construction of the current cathedral building was started in 1913 and took over 40 years and 800 tons of marble to be completed.

The Roman Catholic cathedral is the seat of the Metropolitan Archbishop of the archdiocese and is the largest cathedral in São Paulo.

The huge domed central hall can hold up to 8,000 people and the lower crypt, decorated with marble sculptures by Francisco Leopoldo e Silva, is almost as large as the main hall and well worth a good walk around.

Ipiranga Museum

Officially known as as Museu Paulista, the Museu do Ipiranga is located near to the area where Emperor D. Pedro I proclaimed the Brazilian independence on the banks of Ipiranga.

Work on the building started in 1884 as dedication / monument to the Independence of Brazil. The eclectic-styled construction and perfectly manicured gardens and fountain was inspired by the French Palace of Versailles.

The museum contains a huge collection of furniture, documents and historically relevant artwork, especially relating to the Brazilian Empire era.

The most famous work of art in the collection is the 1888 painting Independência ou Morte (Independence or Death) by Pedro Américo.

Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 9am until 5pm. Closed on Mondays.

Ibirapuera Park

Ibirapuera Park is a huge 2 million square metre oasis of green in the heart of down-town São Paulo.

Designed by Roberto Burle Marx, a celebrated Brazilian landscape architect, the park has jogging and bike trails, pick-up soccer games, children's playgrounds and plenty of nooks to explore.

There are also buildings and museums to stroll, many designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer.

Every Sunday morning there's a free outdoor concert in the park's Praça da Paz and the Museu de Arte Moderna (Museum of Modern Art) is also located at the edge of the park near Gate 3 (see below).

Museum of Art

Located on Paulista Avenue, just near one of the entrances to Ibirapuera Park, the Museum of Art is a striking building and not likely to be easily missed.

The 1968 concrete and glass structure is raised above the sidewalk, supported on two huge bright red beams on one side.

The museum's collection is considered the largest and more comprehensive collection of Western art in Latin America and all the Southern Hemisphere.

Among the 8,000 works of the museum, the collection of European paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, and decorative arts is said to be the best.

The museum is closed on Mondays and open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am until 6pm.

Rua Oscar Freire

The tree-lined Rua Oscar Freire street stretches from Alameda Casa Branca to Avenida Doutor Arnaldo in the Jardins district of São Paulo.

It was named after Oscar Freire de Carvalho, a well known local physician and forensic medicine professor.

This is where you will find some of the city's most over-the-top shopping including Louis Vuitton, Armani, Doir etc.

As well as luxury shopping, most of the top (and expensive) restaurants, bars, food shops and hotels are all located along this strip.

A good tip would be to leave your plastic bank cards back in the hotel safe before you go!

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