Ouro Preto...
A stroll through XVII century

San Francisco de Assis Church. Ouro Preto
San Francisco de Assis Church by Ronald Peret

To walk the streets of Ouro Preto is to take a stroll in time.

This charming little town enclaved by Serra do Espinhaçao mountains - State of Minas Gerais, Brazil - has lots of History flowing under its bridge.

Its present name: Ouro Preto (Black Gold), as well as its former one: Vila Rica (Rich Town) says it all...Gold!

In fact, it became the focal point of gold and silver rush in the Americas till its exhaustion well into 19th. century.

In addition, it's the place where a group of intellectuals and professionals - called Inconfidencia Mineira - planned the first conspiracy to break away from Portuguese rule in 1790.

The movement was soon crushed and its leader - Tiradentes (Tooth Puller) - was executed and beheaded. His head was paraded in the streets of Rio de Janeiro to discourage further attempts.

However, independence of Brazil inevitably came three decades later, in 1822. The Imperial Cidade of Ouro Preto - as it was named in 1823 - was the capital of the State of Minas Gerais until 1897, when it was transferred to the current capital of Belo Horrizonte.

Brazil Travel: Statues of the Prophets
Statues of the Prophets - © Christian Knepper/Embratur

What you will love about this historic village are the steep and narrow streets that still conserve the original cobblestone pavement and the profusion of Baroque churches and religious architecture, not only here, but in the surrounding towns as well.

Actually, catch the O. P. steam train for a tour that connects the most important colonial towns - 18 km. raid.

Antonio Francisco Lisboa - Aleijadinho (Little Cripple) -is a celebrated sculptor that left several masterpieces, among others, Church of São Francisco de Assis and Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo.

The largest sculpture set by Aleijadinho is found in Congonhas do Campo: 64 statues made of cedar wood for the station of the cross and 12 prophets made of soap stone.

So your city tour should include...

  • Aleijadinho's Museum
  • Museu do Oratorio
  • Church Our Lady of Pilar
  • Church of Saint Francis of Assisi
  • Church of Santa Efigenia
  • Mineralogy Museum
  • Opera House

And please do not miss the surrounding towns...

  • Cathedral
  • Sacred Art Museum
  • Pillory
Merces de Cima. Ouro Preto:
Merces de Cima by Marcio Vnicius Pinheiro

  • Church of Our Lady of the Rosary
  • Museum of the Gold
  • Our Lady of Conception Church
  • Church of Our Lady of Carmo
  • Municipal Theater
  • Father Toledo Museum
  • Saint Anthony Church
  • Saint Joseph Water Fountain
São João Del Rey:
  • Main Church of Pilar
  • Our Lady of Carmo
  • Saint Francis of Assisi Church
  • Sacred Art Museum

But your discovery of this historic mining town it should contemplate some of the old gold mines opened to public as well...

  • Mina de Passagem
  • Mina de Santa Rita
  • Mina Velha
  • Mina do Chico Reis

Time permitting, go to the Caraça National Park, a school functioned there since 1700s until 1968. Today has tourism infrastructure and comfort. Ouro Preto is the first town in Brazil to be declared a Cultural Heritage Patrimony of Mankind by UNESCO.

Have a wonderful 17th. century walk and a superb South America vacation!...

By the way, the following photo gallery will provide you with a greater visual insight regarding South America's top colonial cities you'd love to explore...

South America's Top Colonial Cities - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Download PDF version

How to Get There:

By Plane:
You'll land at Tancredo Neves / Confins International Airport (140 km. away). Visit airports in Brazil for more info.

By Road:
From Belo Horizonte: BR-040 and then the State Highway to town (90 km).
Distance from São Paulo: 745 km.
Distance from Rio de Janeiro: 417 km.

Where to Stay:

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