As you approach Mosteiro de São Bento de São Paulo (in english St Benedicts Monastery) from the center of São Paulo, you’ll be overwhelmed by its scale and beauty; the building is juxtaposed against the towering pillars of glass skyscrapers surrounding it. São Bento Monastery is one of the most important religious sites in Brazil and one of São Paulo’s most visited attractions. Attend Sunday Mass to hear Gregorian chants, visit the living quarters of the Benedictine monks, or buy bread and preserves made by the clerics within the monastery. Admire the intricate and lavish detailing inside the main hall or attend a theater performance.
Even non-religious visitors will appreciate the atmosphere and history that surround the monastery. Its architecture is characteristic of the 17th century, when it was originally conceived. The current incarnation of the São Bento Monastery was constructed in 1922 under the instruction of architect Richard Berndl. Look up to see the huge clock, which is said to have the most exact time in São Paulo. Wait for its bells to chime every 15 minutes.
Move inside to appreciate the ornate beauty that the monastery is known for. Many of the frescos and murals that adorn the walls are the work of a German Benedictine monk who traveled to Brazil to execute his most famous work.
Attend a Mass on Sunday morning to hear Gregorian chants and stirring pieces played on the famous organ. Listen as the 6,000 pipes resonate through the main hall. Arrive early to ensure you get a seat, as the Sunday Mass is popular with people of many faiths as well as curious visitors to the city. A theater within the monastery also hosts regular concerts that are open to the public.
Before you leave, stop in the monastery store to buy cakes, breads, jams and candies made by the monks that live here. Try a pão de mel, a bit of honey bread filled with sweet jam and dipped in chocolate.
São Bento Monastery is located in downtown São Paulo and is best reached by metro or bus. Some metered street parking can be found in the area. The monastery is open daily and is free to enter.
Where: Largo São Bento, s/nº
When: Monday to Friday (except Thursdays) from 6 am to the end of the mass started at 6 pm; Saturday and Sunday from 6 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 6 pm. Thursday church closes at 8 am and reopens at 11:30 am. Bakery shop: daily 7 am to 6 pm. Mass with Gregorian chants: Monday to Friday 7 am. Saturday 6 am. Sunday 10 am.
Getting There: Near São Bento metro station ( Line 1 – Blue)
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Information from website: Expedia