Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto means “black gold” due to the fact that once in the local river found gold bullion coated with black plaque. The path to this city is not easy, but those who get there will be generously rewarded with its beauty and originality. It is not for nothing that Ouro Preto stands on a par with such Brazilian wonders as Copacabana or Iguazu. This is a museum city with very steep and narrow streets with houses decorated with elaborate signs and funny interiors. It is literally packed with basilicas, museums, hotel galleries, cafes and souvenir shops.

From time to time, holidays are held in Ouro Preto with a typical Brazilian scale. Here you can see both a chaste Easter procession and an erotic carnival with dances and revealing outfits 40 days before Catholic Easter, before the beginning of Lent. Several times a year, tourists become witnesses of a colorful art festival of paintings from multi-colored crushed stone, laid right on the pavement.

It is better to start exploring the city from the central Tiradentis Square, located on a hill from which curved cobbled streets run down. Here is a monument to the fighter against slavery and the hero of Brazil, who was once executed here and put on display by everyone. Opposite the monument is the Museum of the Uprising with a statue of the incorruptible Themis – the goddess of justice on the roof. It has an interesting historical exposition dedicated to the liberation struggle, although it is predominantly in Portuguese.

One of the most curious museums in the city center is Casa dos Contos (Rua Sao Jose, 12). In the basement there is an eerie museum of slavery, and above – a numismatic exposition, because there used to be a city Treasury here. It is interesting to visit the “Prospector’s House” of the gold mine, the Alberto Gugnard Art Gallery, the Museum of Religious Art, the Museum of Tea.

Bobadela Street descending from Tiradentes Square is a local arbat. On the sides are crowded multi-colored houses with benches and restaurants on the lower floors, inviting tourists to come into the light. It is simply impossible to pass here by churches and cathedrals. Their architecture and decoration is dominated by Baroque and Rococo styles with carved ornaments, cherubim figures, and gilded decor. The most visited of them: the Pilar Basilica, the decoration of which took half a ton of gold (Travessa Lauro Barbosa, 16), the Carmo Church with sculptures by Aleujadinho (Rua Brigadeiro Musqueira), the only church with a free entrance Rosario dos Pretos, notable for a semicircular facade (Largo do Rosario).

In the vicinity of the city there are several gold mines, turned into tourist attractions. In one of them – Veloso mine – there are guided tours, they even dive there with scuba gear, but the claustrophobes are better off staying away from it (Rua Platina, 34). Nature lovers recommend a ride on a quad bike or bus to the picturesque Lake Represa do Custodio (5.7 km de Lavras Novas). And if you ride a little further along the narrow gauge railway, in the town of Mariana you can see “Brazil in miniature.”