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Ouro Preto
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2016-09-03 08:37:19 | Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Keywords: architecture, gold, mine, UNESCO, WHS
The name translates from Portuguese into "Black Gold", but that's not oil but real yellow gold that brought fortune and prosperity to that Brazilian city. It was added to the World Heritage Sites list in 1980 because of its exceptional baroque architecture and numerous major buildings, from churches to schools. It's located in the state of Minas Gerais, of which it was for a short while the capital.

During the 18th century the gold mines around Ouro Preto sent over 400 tons of gold to Portugal. It was the economic center of Brazil and was even at some point the most populated area in the world. Even if most gold was shipped out, the economic growth was phenomenal and it was reflected in the architecture. There are a dozen churches in Ouro Preto, all are massive and of impressive Baroque style. Most of the churches show some gold color on the outside to reflect the source of the local prosperity. The interiors are richly decorated with gold and art.

Church Nossa Senhora das Mercês E Misericórdia

But Ouro Preto was also an important education centre as it was the location of the first school of mines, which was in fact the first engineering school of the country! Today, there are some minor mines still in operation (including some that can be visited by tourists!), but the new source of wealth for the area is the tourism.

Conde de Bobadela street

I loved walking in the stone streets of that old city and admire all this rich architecture with simple colors covered with terracotta tiles. Just like other mining cities I've visited, Ouro Preto is full of hills so exploring it on foot can become tiring after a few hours… but it's easy to find a spot to sit down and admire the beauty around us.

How to get there

The easiest way to get there is from Belo Horizonte. There's a bus departing on the top of the hour from the bus terminal to go to Ouro Preto, which is reached in about 2 hours. Cost of the ticket, about US$10.

Overview of part of the historic centre

Related posts:
Modern Ensemble of Pampulha
Cathedral of Len
Historic centre of Tlacotalpan
Historic Centre of Puebla


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