Since the 18th century, during the days of the “Inconfidência Mineira”, an independence conspiracy against the domination of the Portuguese crown, the state of Minas Gerais gambled with the idea of instating a new capital to replace Ouro Preto. It’s regions is not typical for the foreign tourist but as soon as they know this area, they feel in love. It is the different Brazil with a rich culture and sensational history.
The Capital Belo Horizonte
After the glow of the Golden Age in Minas Gerais state and with the ascension of cities such as Ouro Preto, the new city of Belo Horizonte was raised. This city is the first raised from brand new planning project and pretending to assume the state’s capital status for the very beginning. With a modern urban architectural assemblage, Belo Horizonte has been growing and is the 3rd largest metropolitan city in Brazil, a place of intensive cultural and economic activity. The city’s design was largely influenced by the famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer who designed the Pampulha District, where the domestic airport is located. Belo Horizonte is the gateway to the colonial cities of Minas Gerais which were named UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The former capital of the state of Minas Gerais, 96 km from Belo Horizonte, was founded in 1698, when explorers from São Paulo entered Minas Gerais territory looking for gold. In this city began the liberation movement known as Inconfidência Mineira, which intended to free Brazil from Portugal. Ouro Preto was recognized as part of the Cultural Heritage of Mankind by UNESCO for the importance and grandeur of its baroque architecture and art collection, especially the work of Aleijadinho and Mestre Athaide. Among these is the church of São Francisco de Assis, which is considered a masterpiece of Brazilian baroque, a style reinvented in Brazil, which influenced the most varied aspects of plastic, visual, scenic and literary creation. It is a cradle of the most antique and traditional schools of the state.
Mariana lies only 15 km from Ouro Preto and 112 from Belo Horizonte. Founded in 1696, it is considered a national monument today, and it also made its baroque wealth with the gold taken from its mines and the Carmo stream. Besides its historical and cultural relevance, with many colonial churches and monuments, Mariana has endless natural beauties around it. On the road between Mariana and Ouro Preto is the “Mina da Passagem” (Passage Mine), deactivated in 1985. There visitors can see the crystalline waters of an underground river and the narrow galleries where the miners took out the gold, 120 meters underground.
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