The State of Minas Gerais in the South-east of Brazil, covers a series of cities that seem to have stopped in time, for its historical tradition. In these places, the cuisine is peculiar and amazing, and the cultural wealth is impressive.
Ouro Preto, São João Del Rei, Tiradentes, Diamantina and Mariana are known for its monuments and historical works. You can arrive by plane to the capital Belo Horizonte and, from there, move on to these and other several cities, planning in advance how long you will you stay in each one.
The capital of Minas Gerais houses the Circuito Liberdade (Liberty Circuit), open in 2010 and already recognized as an important place of culture in the country. Inside a historic area of Belo Horizonte, it is formed by 14 institutions, including museums, culture and training centers that map different aspects of cultural and artistic universe. The beauty and architecture of buildings are an invitation to culture.
Historical destinations in Minas Gerais are known for its steep streets, squares and stone streets. In Ouro Preto, the most recommended places to visit are the Museum da Inconfidência, Casa dos Contos (House of Stories) and São Francisco de Assis Church, on a tour through the history of Inconfidência Mineira (revolutionary movement against the Portuguese colonialism in Brazil). See also several beautiful local works of the famous artist Antônio Francisco Lisboa, better known as Aleijadinho.
You have the option of taking a steam train ride, that takes about an hour until the next city, Mariana. The view is beautiful and the railroad offers good conditions, including visits to former stations of the age of the Empire.
For those who like Catholic celebrations, spending holidays like Semana Santa (Holy Week) or Corpus Christi in one of the historical cities of Minas can be a great program. Special masses and processions in the old-fashioned way are not rare, with the path being enlighten only by the candles of believers, not to mention colorful rugs of sawdust.
In Mariana, visit the beautiful Sé Basílica Cathedral, which special attraction is a 1701 German organ with 1039 tubes. Then, you can visit Minas Gerais Square and be amazed by the beautiful São Francisco de Assis and Nossa Senhora do Carmo churches.
This is another city that you have to know. Tiradentes became a mandatory destination for those traveling to Minas since soap operas based on old ages started to be recorded there and, in fact, it looks like a scenic town, as it is really beautiful. It is a well prepared town to receive visitors and ideal for those who want to rest and eat well.
There take the opportunity to enjoy downtown. Founded in 1702, this town is full of tourist attractions: Santo Antônio Mother Church, Sant’Ana Museum, Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos Church and São Francisco de Paula Church. If you want to enjoy the view and urban architecture, it’s worth trying the two-wheeled cart.
São João Del Rei
A historic unforgettable town. A good option is to get there by steam train, on a tour that travels 13 km from Tiradentes, bordering the Rio das Mortes (river of death) and revealing the Serra de São José (São José Mountain). The train runs only on weekends and the opposite direction can also be taken.
A must-see place in São João Del Rei is São Francisco de Assis Church, which has the title of the first in Baroque art in the country and the only one in town designed by Aleijadinho.
This part of the Minas Gerais is known for its precious stones, as the region always had potential for mining. But also gained fame for its personalities, like Chica da Silva, a slave woman who married a Portuguese contractor, and Juscelino Kubitschek, former President of Brazil and responsible for the construction of Brasília, capital of the country.
Diamantina was recognized as a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1999 and has architectural wealth as baroque churches and colonial mansions in their charming stone streets.