Many of the mayor Brazilian cities do have their colonial side with colorful buildings, mosaics and traditional architecture, however I would say that you haven’t seen colonial Brazil before you have seen Ouro Preto. Ouro Preto is different, it’s unique, it’s a must see destination which will surprise you. What makes Ouro Preto so special then? Ouro Preto is not just a colonial old town with beautiful historic churches, Ouro Preto is an another Brazil that you will not find by visiting the well-known cities or beach destinations. After having seen a large number of less conserved cities in Brazil, what mostly impressed me with Ouro Preto was the consciousness of conservation. Without taking into account the entrance, even today the streets of Ouro Preto are made of stones and the new construction has to follow stricktly the tradional architecture. Here you will not see any modern high rising buildings netx to a lovely colonial house, no Ouro Preto is still like decades ago. Basically in the heart of city there is only one modern building. It happens to a hotel, designed by famous Brazilian architecture Oscar Niemayer. A little detail that can easily be forgiven. So once you walk in the narrow streets of Ouro Preto you can enjoy the atmospheare without running into any signs of modern construction. This fact gives Ouro Preto its’ special charm and attracts tourist both at national and at international levels.
Ouro Preto enjoys an easy access from Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais. The distance from the city is only about 100 km and a little bit more if you depart from the international airport of Belo Horizonte. The simplest way to reach this lovely town is to hire a private transfer unless you are not into renting a car and driving by yourself, which in fact is an interesting option as it allows you to discover the nearby cities such as Mariana as well. Once you arrive to Ouro Preto the best way to move around is on foot, but pay attention on the shoes you are wearing. Forget the high heals and any slippery shoes, as walking in the city means going up and down and up again. Also, make sure you get accommodated in the heart of the city which allows quick and easy access to all the attractions at any time of the day.
Praça de Tiradentes, the main square of Ouro Preto is a starting point for your adventures in this colonial town. Visit the Museum of Betrayal (Museo de Inconfidência) to learn a lot about the history of the region. On the other end of the square stands the Museum of Mineralogy with varied collection of minerals from quartz to diamonds. Ouro Preto has 13 traditonal churches dating from baroque and rokokoo eras. All of them are worth visited but if your time and interest is limited include at least the three most important ones into your schedule. They are city’s oldest church Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Pilar with almost 1000 pounds of gold and nearly 900 pounds of silver, Igreja de São Francisco de Assis which is a unique rokokoo church known as a masterpiece of Aleijadinho one of the most highly-regarded Brazilian artists. The museum and the grave of this famous painter, scupltor and architect are located at the church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, also worth visiting. Aleijadinho suffered leprosy and the legend says that after having lost his fingers he c0ntinued working by strapping tools to his stumps. Beside of his talent this is one of the facts that makes his art extremely interesting and definitely worth admiring. When planning your trip to Ouro Preto remember that most of the churches and museums stay closed on Mondays.
Ouro Preto means black gold, name that was given to the city due to the minerals (including gold) found from the region. Today, as a tourist, you can visit the mines which during the gold rush were the working place of hundreds and thousands of slaves. Narrow alleyways inside of the mine tell a cruel history of unhuman working conditions of the slaves, who made all the hard work not only in Ouro Preto but many other parts of Brazil during the slavery. Once you have visited the principal sights, wander around the pictoresque streets of Ouro Preto, take pictures and enjoy the unique atmospheare of this charming city. In case you are visiting Ouro Preto during the summer time visit the waterfalls of the region for a refreshing bath.
When the night falls, Ouro Preto invites you to enjoy fine dining with live music. Jazz and Brasilian popular music (MPB) are the two principal rhythms heard in many restaurants. The offer of cultural events in Ouro Preto is pretty good and one of the most popular events is the festival of Jazz organized every year in September. However even outside of special dates you will always find a cozy place to enjoy a cup of coffee, a class of wine or a delicious meal while you listen to live music. On your next trip to Brazil, don’t miss Ouro Preto, it’s pure magic and easy to fall in love with.
Brazil Diversity recommends:
- Hotel Solar do Rosario – The best hotel of Ouro Preto with top service and all the facilities. Solar do Rosario is well located in a peaceful corner of the city, next to the church of Rosario and just about 10 minutes walk from the main square. It offers high quality accommodation with colonial touch of Ouro Preto and all the possible services including meeting facilities, 2 pool (natural and heated one) and a gym. Highly recommended!
- Pousada do Mondego – A quality pousada next to the São Francisco de Assis church and just a block from the main square.
- Hotel do Teatro – A tiny hotel in a silent street just a step away from the main square. Rooms of Hotel do Teatro are decorated with traditional colonial style and it offers good value for money.
- Cafe Gerais – Tasty meals, ambient decorated with good taste and high quality live jazz in the evenings. An excellent place to enjoy your dinner together with couple of drinks.
- Restaurante Acaso 85 – Looking for a romantic ambient for special celebration? Then your destination must be Acaso 85, a restaurant that from outside doesn’t impress at all, but hides an extremely romantic ambient, with different spaces, one of them an open air garden with candle light. Highly recommended!
- Casa do Ouvidor – A recommended place for lunch or dinner. Taste dishes, good ambient and great value for money. Try especially the tradional meals from the region of Minas Gerais!
- O Passo – A pizzaria with a lovely terrace, for you to have a drink, light snack or a while while listening to live music in open air.