This post will showcase Brazilian landmarks in the southeast region of Brazil. I have already written posts about Brazilian landmarks in the south, Brazilian landmarks in the north, and Brazilian landmarks in the northeast. Brazil is divided into five regions, and the southeast region encompasses four states: Espírito Santo (ES), São Paulo (SP) also known as Sampa, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.
This post was particularly challenging to write because in this series that I am doing on Brazilian landmarks, I am choosing only one landmark from each state in Brazil. As you probably know, the four Brazilian states that I’ve just mentioned are also the four most developed and internationally well-known for their sites and tourist attractions. In São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro alone I could probably devote an entire post altogether discussing what there is to see in the space of one city block. Alas, I had to choose, this is supposed to be a short post after all (and thank God I already talked about Cristo Redentor - probably the most photographed structure in Brazil!) So, here are some of Brazil’s lesser known landmarks in this region:
Espírito Santo’s Zen Buddhist Monastery
At an altitude of 350 meters, an area with exuberant vegetation (the Mata Atlântica) is unexpectedly home to a zen buddhist monastery (Mosteiro Zen Budista). The Brazilian monastery is located at Morro da Vargem, in a municipality of Espírito Santo called Ibiraçu. This was the first zen monastery in Latin America open for buddhist training. The monastery is open to visitors on Sundays. They also have a great website, here’s the link so that you can read more about this unique Brazilian landmark. Next time that I visit Brazil, I plan to visit the Mosteiro Zen Budista in Ibiraçu so that I can do this.
São Paulo - Figueira Rubaiyat
The Brazilian landmark that I have chosen to represent São Paulo is an enormous fig tree, and what makes this fig tree even more unique is that there’s a 5 star restaurant built around it. The restaurant, which opened in 2001, is called Figueira Rubaiyat and it’s located in one of the best neighborhoods in São Paulo for strolling around (Marc Jacobs is right across the street). Jardim Paulista is the name of this chic São Paulo neighborhood, and Rua Haddock Lobo is the name of the street (it’s worth it to walk the whole street, there are shops and it’s absolutely beautiful, also centrally located right off of Av. Paulista). The Figueira, which means fig tree in portuguese is in the center of the restaurant and is absolutely spectacular. Its branches extend so far that they are spilling into the street.
Rio de Janeiro - Catedral Metropolitana
Brazil is speckled with interesting churches, but the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro (Catedral Metropolitana in Portuguese) is one of the most interesting religious architectural structures that I have ever seen. This cone-shaped cathedral is currently the seat of the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is dedicated to Saint Sebastian, the patron saint of Rio de Janeiro and was built between 1964 and 1979. Like most cathedrals, perhaps more surprising than the exterior is the very colorful interior.
Minas Gerais – Igreja Pampulha
Belo Horizonte, the increasingly trendy capital city of Minas Gerais is home to this unique Brazilian landmark: A Igreja São Francisco de Assis da Pampulha (or just Igreja Pampulha and sometimes “Church of St Francis” in English). This controversial church, designed by the infamous Brazilian architect Niemeyer and his engineer Cardozo, was built up through a series of mathematically determined parabolic arches. Overlaying the structure, the architect invited artists to cover the concrete walls with mosaics which, when seen with the whites, blues and browns of the uncovered parts, create a polychromatic effect.