Paranapiacaba means in the indiginous language Tupi „where you find the ocean“ and is a small city in the muncipal of the city of Santo André between São Paulo and the coast.
Paranapiacaba was founded for the employees and workers of the São Paulo Railway, the company was owned by the British Railway Company. The town was constructed at a steam engine, which pulled the trains from Santos with steel ropes. From here the trains continued to São Paulo and Jundaí. In former times also passenger trains were on the railway, nowadays only cargo is transported from Santos to São Paulo.
Today the town is listed in the World Monuments Fund, the building with the steam engine is museum. Paranapiacaba may not be changed, there are no new constructions and because of this only few pousadas (guest houses). But the town council created a project, that many inhabitants offer a room of their house for tourists. This makes the people there feel more related to the history and tourists have a direct contact.
The lower and the higher part of Paranapiacaba are conencted by a foot bridge crossing the railway. From the bridge you also reach the museum of the steam engine. The upper part of the city is on a steep hill, with a church on the top and a cemetery with graves from the foundation time at its side.
The lower part nearly only has wooden houses, in front of many of them there is a sign what the house offers (room, restaurant, bakery, beauty parlour…) and on a hill you see the house of the chief engineer (Castelinho), today a museum. Also restored are the market hall and the Lyra Serrano Club. Close to the bridge to upper Paranapiacaba is the former house of the medical, now there is the tourist information. Here you can book a guide for a tour into the rain forest – without guide it is forbidden to walk there as the entire region is under protection. On the other side of the street are two bars, where motocross drivers meet at the weekends.
The unique atmosphere, which the town has, increases even more, with the clock tower on a platform of the train station. And when the clouds rise from the ocean, entering the valley, you feel as in England.
Only on Sunday a ride with a historic train is offered. And besides the walks in the rain forest you can make tours by mountain bike. Tours from „easy“ to „heavy“ you find on ths site which is in German only. And, each July there is a music festival in the town, many bands playing all over the weekend.
On Sundays a tourist train is leaving São Paulo from the station Estação da Luz for Paranapiacaba. An early reservation is required as it is often booked for months. Here the link to the site of the railway company, unfortunately only in Portuguese.