Sao Paulo Cathedral

Enter the main nave of this gigantic cathedral to admire its Renaissance-style domed roof and descend to the crypt to see the tombs of famous bishops.

Walk down Praça da Sé’s palm-lined boulevard to reach the towering São Paulo Cathedral, the city’s largest church and the seat of the archbishop. From across the square, you’ll see the cathedral’s twin, copper-capped spires. Walk between them to enter the cathedral and see the cavernous main nave, the subterraneous crypt and the tombs located within it. Attend a Sunday Mass with local Paulistas or embark on a guided tour to learn about the building’s fascinating history.

While the current cathedral was completed as recently as 1954, just in time to commemorate São Paulo’s 400th anniversary, the site has been at the heart of São Paulo’s Roman Catholic community since the late 16th century. What began as a small mud-walled place of worship is today among the largest neo-Gothic cathedrals in the world.

Take a quick photograph from the main square to capture the essence of the cathedral, but try not to flaunt your prized possessions; the area is frequented by pickpockets and thieves. Head inside to see the enormous main nave with its 8,000-person capacity. Look up to admire the domed roof. While the Renaissance dome was inspired by the Cathedral of Florence in Italy, the interior decoration features many elements from Brazilian nature. Try to locate pineapples, coffee branches and armadillos adorning the walls.

Descend to the crypt below the main hall to see tombs of deceased bishops. Look for the bronze tombs of Father Diogo Feijó and Chief Tibiriçá, a native tribal leader who converted to Christianity.

Visit the cathedral on a Sunday to attend a morning Mass. Listen as one of Latin America’s largest pipe organs plays beautiful tones from its 12,000 pipes. Join a guided tour of the cathedral after Mass to learn about its history and the architectural styles used in its construction.

The São Paulo Cathedral is located in the heart of the city and is best reached by metro or on foot. There is some parking in the area, but high levels of theft mean it is recommended you park only in secure parking lots. The cathedral is open daily and there is no fee for admission.