Standing 130 meters tall in the heart of São Paulo, the Martinelli Building was the city’s first skyscraper. Built in 1929 with 12 floors to begin with, the remaining 18 floors you see today were completed by 1935.
A beautiful building that would look right at home in Chicago, the Martinelli Building was built by Italian immigrant-turned-business tycoon Giuseppe Martinelli, who arrived in Brazil in 1889. To prove to a skeptical public that the skyscraper was actually safe, he and his family actually lived in the top four floors until the Great Depression forced Martinelli to part with the building and let it come under control of the Italian government, who then sold it to the state of Brazil.
Today the Martinelli Building is home to the Departments of Municipal House and Planning and various company offices, with shops on the ground floor. To visit the top, head to the side door—visits are 30 minutes. You’ll go in a small group, taking the elevator up to the rooftop terrace. At the top, enjoy 360-degree views of the city that extends all the way to the horizon. You'll be given plenty of time at the top (around 30 minutes), though there’s no rush to make your way back down.
On Rua São Bento 405, schedule your visit in advance by phone or through the Martinelli Building website. You'll have a Portuguese-speaking guide who provides the history of the building, though it’s unlikely that they’ll speak much (or any) English.