'Ouro Preto' meaning 'black gold', takes its name from the original colour of the metal when gold was found in the river Tripui. It was founded in 1711. The city came to have 110,000 inhabitants in the eighteenth century while Rio only had 20,000. There is now less than half of the original population, and just as well because the city has remained generally in good condition despite its difficult terrain but the weather does not help, because it is at 1,000 meters above sea level and its climate is very cold and rainy in winter. Luckily it did not rain during my stay, and I could walk around its steep streets and see a few Baroque churches named Unesco World Heritage Sites in 1981, mainly because of the enormous wealth of baroque churches, which add many chapels and oratories. If it were not for the gold, no one would have built a city there, since in Ouro Preto, the slopes are grueling and dangerous to climb down, and the cobbles are placed vertically to prevent the fall of erosion water continuing down lower into the city.
When I got to the capital of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, the 1st thing that struck me was how contemporary the city was, against which we had visited before in the state, like Ouro Preto, Tiradentes, and Sao Joao del Rei. The reason is obvious, Belo Horizonte was founded in the year 1897, so it is barely a century old It replaced Ouro Preto as the capital, and its population now is over 2,000,000. The city has big gardens and avenues, and world famous structures, such as the residential building in the Praça da Liberdade, a project of Oscar Niemeyer executed between the years 1954 and 1960. I was happy to see the structure, as I am a fan of Niemeyer . He is the architect of Brasilia and of hundreds of landmarks all across the country of Brazil, such as Niteroi, and around the globe, for example his work with Le Corbusier in the design of the UN building in NYC in the year 1952. He is over 100 years old and is involved in many projects, such as the current one in Gijón, the Niemeyer Center, which will be a reference in cultural content and space associated with education and culture, and has an alliance with the UN.
THE ALEIJADINHO (The Cripple), was the name FRANCISCO ANTONIO was known as in LISBON, a sculptor, carver and architect, whose amazing work can be admired when you visit Ouro Preto. The ALEIJADINHO was born in Villa Rica in the year 1730 and died in the year 1804. He made sculptures in many materials, from wood to soapstone, a Brazilian construction material, also known as "soap stone" for its malleability. Most of his art is representative of BRAZILIAN COLONIAL and in his works there are ROCOCO characteristics, as well as style and GOTHIC CLASSIC. At the age of 40 he began to develop a degenerative disease of the upper and lower area and it is not known whether it was syphilis, leprosy, rheumatism or scurvy. That is what we contribute his nickname to: ALEIJADINHO (Cripple). The modern accounts say that in his later years, he was tied with working chisels, with bandages on his hands, in order to continue with their work ..... He left WONDERFUL WORK!
Congonhas is a tiny village that is in the state of Minas Gerais, 90 kilometers south of Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais. The highlight is the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos, which is formed by the basilica, the prophets, the chapels of the steps, the chapel of the Blessed, the living miracles and headquarters of the sanctuary, this resort stand that adorn the sculptures, which were commissioned in the 18th century by Feliciano Mendez and were the setting of Aleijadinho Baroque. The Jubilee of Bom Jesus is celebrated every year from 7 to 14 September, where miners exposed the strong faith that they had for the Lord of Matosinhos, which is not only religious, but also to save one of the greatest assets in Brazil, which is made up of the 12 prophets in stone on the square of the basilica and 66 figures of cedar in the steps of passion. The construction of the chapels and in general the complex took 76 years. This site is of such historical and cultural importance was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
For those who want a bit of romance and adventure, this is one of the most popular destinations for couples. Lovers of hiking, climbing, and adventure won't find anything better than Monte Verde, where you'll be immersed in nature.