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A university and historical city, declared World Cultural Heritage by Unesco. Surrounded by mountains, it keeps the young and cheerful vibe of the students who live in the several frat houses in old Vila Rica, as it was called before becoming Ouro Preto.
It has the biggest concentration of churches I have ever seen in Brazil. Going up and down the slopes we find buildings in baroque, rococo and neo-Gothic style, colonial houses, cobblestone streets, handicraft and stone shops and, of course, lots of restaurants with typical food.
One day is enough to visit the main attractions, walking on every little street – but not going into all museums and churches, there are too many. You wish you could stay longer, try all the restaurants and enjoy the “back to the past” mood.
TIRADENTES SQUARE is where all the museums, shops and restaurants are. Right in the middle there is the statue of Tiradentes and INCONFIDÊNCIA MUSEUM is across the square – this one seemed to be the most interesting, but it was closed due to the holiday. The square is the only crowded place at night.
Going down a slope there is SÃO FRANCISCO DE ASSIS CHURCH, designed by Aleijadinho, who also did the altar. The ticket is also valid for the ALEIJADINHO MUSEUM, inside NOSSA SENHORA DA CONCEIÇÃO PARISH with sacred and baroque art.
Across from São Francisco de Assis Church there is the SOAPSTONE FAIR every day, the cheapest place to buy handicraft.
HORTO DOS CONTOS is a trail in the middle of the city, a pleasant walk in nature, and when you look up there is a colonial church as landscape. Start on Padre Rolim St., near the bus station and go down to Pilar. You may do it the other way around, but catch your breath for a great ascent.
CASA DOS CONTOS is at the end of Horto dos Contos, there are temporary expositions of local artists and the history of Brazilian money, free of charge.
Most museums and churches are closed on Mondays.
It is pretty hot during the day, but the temperature may drop at night.
How to get there – There is a bus from PÁSSARO VERDE COMPANY leaving Belo Horizonte every hour. We took this bus, but it would have been better if we had gone by car. It takes too long and the bus stops a lot, people get on and off. On “estrada real” (between the coast of Rio de Janeiro and the countryside of Minas Gerais) there are several historical cities to visit; it is easier if you have your own car.
Accommodation – A double room with breakfast cost R$ 120 at D. TEREZINHA INN. Mary and her mother were very warm; they welcomed us with tips and homemade breakfast.
Do not leave the reservations till the last minute on holiday season, especially on carnival and Oct. 12th.
Restaurants – O PASSO, on São José St., is a pizza place with live music and nice vibe; crowded at night.
O SÓTÃO has wonderful pancakes and juice, fair price. Live music, work of art and handicraft decorate the place located on Direita St.
RELICÁRIO 1800 is a basement with stone walls and varied dishes from Minas Gerais on Tiradentes Square.
Translated by Lúcia Maciel
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