About five years ago I had to go to Perdizes, a neighborhood on the west side of São Paulo, for the first time. I found the area charming, so when I was finished my business there I decided to have a better look around and walked back to the Barra Funda metro station close by. I had nearly reached Av. Francisco Matarazzo, a large avenue one must cross to reach the metro, when I came across Aguá Branca Park – an unexpected little wonder dropped right in the middle of one São Paulo’s busiest and noisiest areas. Always curious to discover more of my city, I stepped inside and fell immediately in love.
The park was founded on June 2, 1929 by Dr. Fernando Costa, who was then the Secretary of Agriculture. Today it is better known as Parque da Aguá Branca but its official name is an homage to its founder: Parque Dr. Fernando Costa. It´s main purpose was to hold expos on zootechnics and it is still home to many farm animals.
From the outside Aguá Branca Park looks pretty unassuming – hidden behind a plain old wall. But one need only go in a short distance before feeling as if they have walked through the looking glass. Inside it is another São Paulo – quiet, peaceful – and with ducks, chickens, fish, roosters, and even the occasional partridge with which to share the space.
One of the most charming aspects of the park is the mix between the natural green landscapes and the mustard yellow early 20th century style buildings, decks, benches and gazebos. These light colors set a very mellow mood, and my impression is that most people frequent the park for this very serenity. Especially on the weekdays, one is much more likely to find a group of readers or nature observers than a group of joggers or bikers. I enjoy this laid back atmosphere and thus the park is one of my favorite spots to stroll and contemplate. Although it borders one of the city’s busiest avenues, the slow pace, silence, and farm animals make me forget that I live in South America’s largest metropolis.
Aside from the park itself, Aguá Branca is also home to various trade schools set up by the Fundo Social de Solidariedade do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo State Solidarity Social Fund). There is a beauty school, a fashion school , and even a course on artisan baking. The park also has a famous organic farmer’s market on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 7am – 12pm.
Weekends at the park are naturally a bit busier with various food, music, and book fairs, but the serene family atmosphere isn’t affected much – it’s simply in greater volume. The site, Catraca Livre, has a Parque da Aguá Branca page, and it is a great way to keep up to date with any special events that may go on in the park.
Aguá Branca Park is easily accessible via public transportation. Barra Funda Terminal is less than a kilometer’s walk away. Various bus lines also stop almost directly in front of the park’s main entrance on Av. Francisco Matarazzo. If you ever have some free time to take a quiet stroll or simply need a break from São Paulo’s hustle and bustle, Parque da Aguá Branca is a great choice to become your little oasis in the madness.
P. Ray 2016
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