In Sao Paulo’s downtown, the Monastery of Sao Bento is known for its Gregorian chanting, exceptional bakery, and beautiful frescoes.
To catch the medieval chants of the monks, head to the 10am Sunday mass — get there early for a good seat. If you come for Sunday service, you’ll also get to hear the 6,000 pipe organ being played. For cake, jams, cookies, and breads prepared and blessed by the monks, look for the bakery to the left of the main hall. It’s a little more expensive than regular bakeries, but the quality is excellent and there’s a wide range of baked goods to choose from. Try the pão de mel — honey bread filled with jam and dipped in chocolate.
Surrounded by skyscrapers today, the Monastery of Sao Bento was built from 1910-1922, and it stands in the place of the original 17th-century chapel. Home to 40 cloistered monks, the monastery was chosen by Pope Benedict XVI for his stay during his first official visit to Brazil in 2007. Inside, see the famous murals painted by the Benedictine German monk, Dom Dutch Gresnicht Adelbert, who came to Brazil in 1913 especially to paint these Biblical scenes.
Open daily, to reach São Bento Monastery take the blue line to São Bento station and follow the signs to the Mosteiro/Largo de Sao Bento exit to reach the monastery’s square. Entrance is free, and open hours are Monday to Friday (except Thursday), from 6am-7pm. On weekends it's open 6am-12pm, then from 2-6pm Saturdays and 4-6pm Sundays.