Avenida Sete de Setembro
If you take the high road—Avenida Sete—from Praça Castro Alves, within a few meters, you’ll find yourself in front of one of the oldest monasteries in all of the Americas, the grandiose Mosteiro de São Bento (Largo de São Bento, Centro, tel. 71/2106-5200, 11:30 a.m.–5 p.m. daily), which has undergone numerous renovations since its founding in 1582. It’s worth popping in for a quick look at its interior and museum of religious art. If you’re a sucker for Gregorian chants, take a cab here on Sunday to hear the monastery’s 30 cloistered monks exercise their vocal chords.
As you continue along Avenida Sete, you will pass the lively Praça da Piedade, where the trees are home to iguanas. The busy square is framed by the impressively domed Igreja Nossa Senhora da Piedade and the unusual Gabinete Português de Leitura, a library that houses works of Portuguese and Brazilian literature.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition