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The Travel Well Guide
City: N/A State: Minas Gerais Country: Brazil
Vila Rica do Ouro Preto (from Portuguese, Rich Village of the Black Gold) is a city in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, a former colonial mining town located in the Serra do Espinhaço mountains and designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its outstanding Baroque architecture. . The Museu Mineralogico da Escola de Mineras is an institution dedicated to these, and has a jaw-dropping collection of minerals and precious and semi-precious jewels on display. It is thought that gold was first discovered in the area in the 1690s, in the form of little nuggets covered in a layer of black iron oxide, which gave the city its name. This region truly was El Dorado, until the gold started to run out, thePortuguese rulers imposed higher and higher taxes and more and more stringent regulations, eventually provoking the mconfidencia Revolt. This was quashed but the town's prosperity was never regained. The period of wealth, however, has left a collection of Baroque buildings unequalled in their beauty and homogeneity, with different communities seeking to outdo each other in the construction and embellishment of their churches and public buildings. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1980.There are few modern buildings to break the charm of the city, and its red-tiled roofs stretch across the little valley. The wealth of churches, red-and-white homes with painted doors and little cobbled streets are a perennial delight.
Climate | When to Visit
It can be wet there in summers.
Visit during: September to February
Directions | How to Reach
By Road:Long-distance buses leave from Ouro Prêto’s main bus station. Destinations include Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, São João del Rei, Santa Bárbara, Brasilia. To get to Mariana or Minas de Passagem, catch a local Transcotta bus from the local bus stop just northeast of Praça Tiradentes.By Train:A newly-renovated historic tourist train runs on weekends between Ouro Prêto and Mariana, leaving Ouro Prêto’s train station at 11am and 4pm Friday to Sunday, returning at 9am and 2pm from Mariana. The 18km journey is pretty but slow, snaking along a river gorge the whole way.
miscellaneous | Important Information
Don't miss:Lavras Novas - an old slave town located just outside the city. Full of brightly coloured and charming buildings, this is an ideal place to sample traditional village life. Itacolomi Peak and State Park for stunning views across the city. Wandering through the cobbled streets, admiring the Baroque buildings and absorbing the atmosphere of this charming place.