An enduring symbol of São Paulo’s 20th century race to modernity, the Edifício Altino Arantes—more commonly known as the Banespa Tower or Banespão—remains one of the most notable landmarks on the city’s exhaustive skyline. Originally built as the headquarters of the State Bank of São Paulo (Banespa) and named for one of the bank’s first presidents, the tower rose over an eight-year period, crowning the city as its tallest building in 1947, a title held for the next 18 years. At completion, the 528-foot tower also held the title of tallest reinforced concrete structure and tallest building outside of the United States. Inspired by New York City’s Empire State Building, the tower exhibits Art Deco styling both inside and out.
Despite being the third-tallest building in the city, the Banespa is situated on the highest point in downtown São Paulo, giving it the appearance of being even taller than the Mirante do Vale, today the tallest building in Brazil at 558 feet. Panoramic, 360-degree views of the city from the 35th-floor observation deck extend to over 25 miles, encompassing all of downtown and even the verdant Serra da Cantareira mountain range to the city’s north. The observation deck and the first-floor building museum is free to visitors and open Monday through Friday, except holidays, from 10am to 5pm.