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Monday, May 16, 2016

Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo, Brazil, the city stretching out to the horizon beyond.
If it tells you anything regarding big city parks in the United States, this is the second one I've encountered which compares itself to Central Park in New York City. Though it's just a little over 150 years old (dating from 1857) Frederick Law Olmsted's and Calvert Vaux's innovative landscaping and engineering of 778 acres in Mid-town Manhattan has made such an impression upon visitors and New Yorkers alike as to become an iconic model to be emulated in city parks, some much older than that of the "Big Apple." The city of Sao Paulo, just slightly inland from the coast of Brazil, has it's "central" park said to equal that of New York,--Ibirapuera Parque.
 
Ibirapuera Park map, Sao Paulo, Brazil. This was a very difficult map to
create in that virtually ALL park maps are in Portuguese, Brazil's native language. I've marked some of more important structures.
Ibirapuera Park is somewhat smaller (554 acres) than New York's Central Park and a good deal more recent, laid out in 1954. But then, Sao Paulo is smaller and younger than NYC. In a very real sense, this park belongs to the internationally acclaimed Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, (also the mastermind behind the country's made-from-scratch capital, Brasilia. Niemeyer's park showcase includes at least seven museums, plus a Planetarium and Municipal Astrophysics School. There's also a gymnasium, a Japanese Pavilion, a monument or two, an auditorium, and an obelisk. My sources are unclear if Niemeyer designed all or just most of the latter items.

One of my favorite Niemeyer creations is, of course, the art museum,
the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion with its wide-open spaces and swirling ramps. Though Niemeyer is 20th-century, it would appear his work is at least 21st-century in origin.
Another Niemeyer work I find quite daring and exciting is his Ibirapuera Auditorium located near the center of the park. To describe it, the impression is of a big, white wedge with its big red tongue sticking out to form a roof sheltering (somewhat at least) the main entrance. The tongue dips and ducks and swirls into the interior of the structure leading guests through the lobby to the theater (below). The auditorium was originally planned as part of the park complex but was so radical in design that it took the Brazilians some fifty years to get use to the idea before finally seeing it built just recently. All of Niemeyer's Ibirapuera architecture, was ahead of its time. It would appear that some of his designs were further ahead than others.

Ibirapuera Auditorium, Oscar Niemeyer, architect
It might be tempting to think of Ibirapuera as a grouping of museums and cultural temples which happen to also have a park attached. But Ibirapuera Park also has a large area for leisure, jogging and walking, as well as its vivid cultural scene, museums and music hall. There's a sizable lake with several enormous fountains (top), long, winding, tree-lined paths (below), soccer fields, a picturesque iron bridge, extensive covered walkways, the requisite number of patriotic monuments and statues, and of course, lots of people. It also has two major streets tunneling beneath it. Strangely though, Ibirapuera Park is not Sao Paulo's biggest park. Aclimação Park holds that honor, though it's more of a nature preserve than city park.

The seasons have a profound effect on Ibirapuera Park.
Although strolling through any big-city park at night is not highly recommended, Ibirapuera with its brightly illuminated fountains and the city of Sao Paulo itself, all reflected in the park's extensive waterways, provide a spectacular light show equal to that of any park in the world (below).

Ibirapuera at night, best seen from the safety of a taxi cab.
Ibirapuera is never more beautiful or romantic
than from the iron bridge at dusk (even if it is a
bit crowded).
The Oca Exhibition Hall.
(Fair warning, no signage in English.)





































































 

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