Latin America Travel & Tour Information
Ouro Preto Travel Information
Ouro Preto, the famous ancient capital of the State of Minas Gerais, was founded in 1711. The city treasures a remarkable cluster of baroque-styled buildings that has endowed it with a beautiful peculiar touch. Ouro Preto owes its name to the discovery of Black Gold, known for its high quality. From this discovery, the city welcomed a migratory influx from several regions of the country and Portugal. Ouro Preto was the capital of the State of Minas Gerais until the foundation of the city of Belo Horizonte took over.
This city, built over rocky terrain some 1000m above sea level, was declared a National Monument in 1933. Its cobbled streets run up and down the steep hills, crowned by 13 churches. Mansions, fountains, churches, views of the gardens, terraces, ruins and the shiny tiled towers, merge themselves to recreate the magnificent 18th century flair.
Ouro Preto Attractions
Ouro Preto show-cases many a baroque-styled carving in wood and soap, made by the sculptor Aleijadinho. The São Francisco de Assis Church and the façade of Carmo Church were also of his authorship, as well as the pulpits inside the San Francisco Church and several others.
Ouro Preto owns an outstanding Mining School which was founded in 1876, located inside the fort of the Governors' Palace (1742) on the main square (Praga Tiradentes). Here also stands the interesting Mineralogy and Rock Museum.
In front of the Palace, next to the Carmo Church, rises the Unconfidence Museum, a history museum that exhibits Aleijadinho´s drawings. There is also an interesting adjoining room inside the museum named Manoel da Costa Athayde. The building, constructed during the 18th century, also served as a jail and the local Chamber of Commerce.
The Das Contas Mansion, another museum, is recommended for a visit. It is open from 12:30-17:00, Monday to Saturday and 08:00-13:00 on Sunday. The Guignard Residence shows Alberto da Veiga Guignard´s paintings. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 09:00-17:00, Sunday 12:00-17:00.
There is a statue of José Joaquim da Silva Xavier on Independence Square, also known as Tiradentes. He was the leader of the 'Unconfident's' (failed revolutionary insurgents from 1789), considered in Brazil as the forerunner of independence. Another unconfident, the poet Tomás Antonio Gonzaga was exiled in Africa. Most Brazilians know by heart his poem based on his impossible love story that leads you to the bridge and fountain where the lovers gave full vent to their sadness. Every June 24, Ouro Preto again becomes the capital of Minas Gerais for a day.