Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pirenópolis, Goiás

A delightful colonial mining town, Pirenópolis charms visitors with its colorful architecture, the beauty of its natural surroundings, and its serene atmosphere. Wonderfully preserved, this historic town - with its National Heritage status - takes visitors back in time with its quartzite stone streets, quaint old churches, locally-run Pirenopolis hotels and museums. The natural beauty of the surrounding Cerrado landscape (Brazilian Tropical Savannah), complete with mountains and waterfalls, complement the picturesque town.

It's a town located in the Brazilian state of Goiás at 85 miles west of Brasília (capital of Brazil). It is also well known for a popular festival involving mounted horses called Festa do Divino Espírito Santo which takes place 45 days after Easter. The feast of the Holy Spirit (Festa do Divino Espírito Santo), celebrated in Pirenópolis since 1819, brings together bands parades, fireworks, congas, dances and other events.

In Pirenopolis, it's still possible to see horsedrawn carts, eat homemade cheese and crackers, or pick fruit from a nearby tree. 

Pirenópolis means “the City of the Pireneus”. Its name comes from the mountain range that surrounds the city, that is Mountain range of the Pireneus. According to local tradition, the mountain range received this name for having in the region immigrant Spaniards, probably Catalans. Because of some similarity with their native Pyrenees of Europe, a mountain chain situated between Spain and France, they had then given this mountain range the Latin name of Pireneus.

In Pirenópolis, moto-taxis are the public transportation system and the main way, if you’re not part of a tour group, to get to the waterfalls that dot the surrounding hills.

It’s pretty quiet during the week  but the number of tourist-oriented shops and restaurants, however, indicates that this place gets filled on weekends. Its cobbled streets are filled with diners at open-air eateries, live music drifted from restaurants, couples sat sharing cold beers in the shady park and swimmers bathed in the Rio das Almas river that runs through town.

Rio das Almas

Among the colonial buildings stand out from the Church of Our Lady Mother of the Rosary, the oldest in the state of Goias, built between 1728 and 1732.

The waterfalls, numbering over twenty, are located within 15 km from the city. It's considered two must-see waterfalls: Lázaro and Santa Maria (also known as Cachoeira do Inferno), both located in the same private property, the Vargem Grande Ecological Reserve.