Previous visits to Ibirapuera Park had been for running: if you are lucky enough to stay in the vicinity, going for a workout in this big park feels like a privilege in an enormous city of concrete. Years later, I am back - and go for a run on an early Sunday morning. To reach the park, I have to cross Avenida Vinte e Tres de Maio, one of the highways around Ibirapuera. Just when I start wondering how to do this, I see a long line of runners dressed in white, running on the empty lanes of the highway: an organized event. Perhaps they will run directly into the park? When I run along, I discover that they are all women, and I soon realize I have ended up in an exclusively female run. Moreover, they do not run into the park, but rather alongside it. I see a flyover near the Museum of Contemporary Art which takes me directly to one of the entrances of the park. Instead of sticking to the main paths, I follow a trail which, I remember, goes all around the park. It is still there, making me run alongside the iron fence, under enormous trees, through grass fields, over small squares where I see Paulistas performing tai-chi, past small lakes, under jacaranda trees, on trails where I see many more runners (it seems there is another ladies run where women are dressed in pink), and past unique pieces of architecture. At the northern point of Ibirapuera, I see the finish of the white ladies run. During my second lap, I already see more people streaming into the park.
A few hours later, I am back. This time, dressed in summer clothes, and armed with my camera. After the morning workout, I am ready to explore what the park has to offer, especially the architectural traces left behind by Brazilian maestro Oscar Niemeyer, and I therefore stay clear from the very edges of it. After taking the same flyover I took that morning, I take a right and walk to the Fundaçao Bienal de São Paulo: the first Niemeyer building. This is a fairly straightforward rectangular building, with metal panels covering all the windows. What makes it stand out, is the external entranceway. The building seems empty. A woman is running up and down the entranceway, thus turning the sloping entrance into a training facility. Right behind the building, I find the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art. I walk around the sculpture garden, which offers a wide variety of wooden, stone, and metal objects of art; some quite small, others towering high above me, some abstract, others realistic. The Oca Pavilion is next. It looks like a flying saucer that has just landed, with big eyes just above ground level, but it is actually modelled after dwellings of native Americans. Walking around this building takes me to the Ibirapuera Auditorium, another daring construction from the fantasy of Oscar Niemeyer. He designed it in the early 1950s, but it was only turned into reality in 2005. The red waving roof over the entrance looks inviting, but the doors are closed.
Continuing further north in Ibirapuera, I come to a huge tree, around which I find several statues: memorials for Brazilian heroes. Across the road, on an island between the traffic: the Obelisk, commemorating the victims of the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932. From here, I walk the Marquise, a veranda, or covered walkway, towards the Pavilhão das Culturas Brasileiras. The building seems closed, and in urgent need of repair. In the grass, I suddenly several women with exposed, bare bellies: obviously pregnant, they are posing for photographers. I imagine how one day they will show these pictures to their child, explaining how they were taken shortly before delivery in these lungs of the city. Meanwhile, skateboarders dominate the concrete walkway, and I walk past some well done graffiti to reach the Afro-Brasilian museum -yet another Niemeyer creation. Very tempted to go in, but I leave it for a next visit, and walk west instead. After all the architecture, it is time to see the park itself. I walk a wide lane full of people, past a Japanese pavilion, on a path along the lakeshore, with flowers, exotic trees, couples lying in the grass, families playing, people working out, or sitting down reading a book. Things you do in a park. Across the lake, above the trees, I see the grey layer of concrete, of the megalopolis. Turning the swamps that were originally here in the early 20th century into one of the biggest city parks of the Americas was a very good idea, I think. Then, on the way back, I take different paths, and realize that there is yet more to discover. Ibirapuera, I will be back!
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Ibirapuera Park (Brazil). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Ibirapuera Park. Read more about this site.