The city was founded by the Jesuits in 1554 as a mission center for early settlers and the Indians who inhabited the area, and later grew as a result of the income from coffee exports.
The city is well known for its museums, nightlife, and array of restaurants that are as diverse as they are numerous. Live music is even more plentiful here than in Rio.
Some hotels will let you use their facilities (gym, spa, pool, beach, etc.) for a reduced day pass. This can be great for layovers!