Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »

São Paulo, Brazil

The Crypt of the São Paulo Cathedral

The crypts are so large they're basically their own underground church. 

The Metropolitan Cathedral of São Paulo is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of São Paulo, Brazil. The building, which is the city’s largest Catholic church, has a crypt so big it’s basically its own underground church.

The massive crypt is located under the main altar. The vast hall, which is supported by beautiful Gothic-style arches and columns, is decorated with marble sculptures that depict the history of the biblical figures Job and Saint Jerome. São Paulo’s bishops, archbishops, and other historically important people are buried within.

It’s the final resting place for people like Father Diogo Feijó, who was a regent of Brazil during Emperor Dom Pedro II’s 19th-century reign and Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão, a visionary and the creator of an 18th-century airship design. The crypt also houses the giant brass tomb of Chief Tibiriçá, a 16th-century native who converted to Christianity and helped the Portuguese Jesuits colonize São Paulo.

Construction on the neo-Gothic cathedral began in 1913 and lasted for four decades. Over 800 tons of rare marble were used in its making. Everything except the towers were completed in time for the city’s 400th anniversary in 1954. Despite having a Renaissance-style dome, the cathedral is still known as the world’s fourth largest neo-Gothic temple. It’s the main house of worship for the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption of São Paulo, which was created on August 10, 1591.