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Modern Ensemble of Pampulha
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2016-08-30 17:58:42 | Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Keywords: architecture, art, Niemeyer, UNESCO, WHS
Today, I visited one of the new UNESCO sites of this year... it was added to the list merely 6 weeks ago. Althought, I had already planned to visit the site before it was officially accepted on the list. It's one of the new modern sites now making their way onto the list, representing recent human achievements and visions mostly in terms of architecture. The whole complex is merely 70 years old... but it was so innovative and showcase so many great architecture and art pieces that its inclusion on the list was obvious.

The Modern Ensemble of Pampulha is located on the northern end of the city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil.  That artificial lake and its surroundings was created in the early 1940's to represent a vision of the future mixing up leisure and tourism (with a beach and a casino), religion (of course!, we're in Brazil), sports (then golf, now a tennis centre) and culture in an harmonious ensemble designed to be functional but also very easy on the eyes.  The architecture is the star here... and on the rim of the lake, there are many important buildings, and there are strategic view points integrated along the shore to admire a specific building sitting across the lake.

Casa do baile

Most of the buildings are the creation of famous Oscar Niemeyer, by far the most famous architect of Brazil, and one of the most famous in the world.  I'll soon see more of his major works when I'll visit Brasilia in a few weeks. The most famous buildings used to represent the ensemble in the various publications and articles are the spectacular little church of São Francisco de Assis and the Casa do Baile.  But beyond the Niemeyer buildings, the site is surrounded by a great number of spectacular houses, in a similar modern and simplistic architecture style. You'll enjoy walking around the lake and look on both sites of the street to see the lake on one site... and the houses on the other.  Very interesting location to visit.

Since it's brand new, it doesn't display yet the typical bronze plaque we usually see at the various UNESCO sites... but the city placed banners indicating it's now the pride of non only Minas Gerais (the state in which Belo Horizonte is) but also of the whole world now.  They made one sign in Portuguese of course, but also one in English.  Throughout the site, you'll encounter many information plaques presenting you the various buildings and the text there too is bilingual. 

Temporary UNESCO identification

How to get there?

Since the site is actually part of the city of Belo Horizonte, it's very easy to get there.  There are many buses leaving downtown to reach various parts of the ensemble.  You'll just pay the regular bus tariff (currently R$3,70, or US$1,14) each way.  There's no cost to visit, since it's an open exterior site, but contributions are asked when you go inside the church... and they sell you a ticket for R$3 (US$0.92).  So, the whole visit will cost you a bit more than US$3.  Of course, if you visit during a hot day (like today for me!), you have to take into account you'll probably want some ice cream of a beer. :-)

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