|© M & G Therin-Weise|
Author: M & G Therin Weise
Minas Gerais, a large inland state in southeastern Brazil, is known for colonial-era towns dating to the country’s 18th-century gold rush. With cobblestone streets, ornate mansions and baroque churches decorated by the sculptor Aleijadinho, these towns include São João del Rei, Tiradentes, and Ouro Preto, the old capital. The famous steam train Maria Fumaça (“Smoking Mary”) links Tiradentes to São João del Rei.
Ouro Preto is former colonial mining town located in the Serra do Espinhaço mountains and designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its outstanding Baroque architecture.
It's located in one of the main areas of the Brazilian Gold Rush. Officially, 800 tons of gold were sent to Portugal in the XVIII century, without counting the gold which circulated illegally, nor the one which remained in the colony, adorning churches, for example.
In the 18th century, Ouro Preto became for a time the most populous city in the New World, with an estimated population of 80 thousand people in 1750. At that time, the population of New York was half that number, and the population of São Paulo did not reach 8 thousand.
Founded at the end of the 17th century, Ouro Preto (Black Gold) was the focal point of the gold rush and Brazil’s golden age in the 18th century. With the exhaustion of the gold mines in the 19th century, the city’s influence declined but many churches, bridges and fountains remain as a testimony to its past prosperity and the exceptional talent of the Baroque sculptor Aleijadinho.
Of all the exquisite colonial towns scattered around Minas Gerais, Ouro Preto is the jewel in the crown. Significant historically as a center of gold mining and government, and as the stage for Brazil’s first independence movement, the city remains vital in modern times as a center for education and the arts, and is one of Brazil’s most visited tourist destinations.
|Knowing the works of Aleijadinho is the main reason for the visit of tourists in the city of Ouro Preto. Credit: Luciano Queiróz|
|Handicraft fair. Popularly known as "The Feirinha of soapstone". Photo: ouropretogov|
|Waterfall "Três Pingos"|
|Tourist train Ouro Preto to Mariana. Photo: pousadinhas|
|Conde de Bobadela Street - Trade, bars, restaurants, chocolate, jewelry and precious stones. Photo: Fabiano Gozzo|