One of the largest, most important and ancient eighteenth-century mining towns, São João Del Rei was born in 1702 on the banks of Rio das Mortes by the hands of bandeirantes paulistas. In 1713, the camp won village status with the name of São João Del Rei in an obvious tribute to the Portuguese King Dom João V.
Currently, São João has strong trade, busy traffic and is known for being a vibrant university town due to the significant presence of teaching centers and student republics which attract young people from all over the country and also from abroad.
For the enchantment of local residents and tourists, the city keeps alive a centuries-old tradition: the ringing of the church bells. This custom made her the "city of the bells" and "land where the bells speak". The tradition is executed by bell ringers who pass down this art from generation to generation. The Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (Iphan) granted the bell ringers the title of Cultural Heritage of Brasil.
Religion is a striking trait and is present in the beautiful churches, witnesses of a rich past. The matriz de São Francisco de Assis (1774) was designed and decorated by Aleijadinho, one of the greatest baroque artists of the country. The Basílica Nossa Senhora do Pilar is preserved by Iphan and is the only one in the city with altars of gold wire.
The Historic Center displays fountains, monumental bridges and beautiful colonial mansions. The main attraction is the Tancredo Neves Memorial, created to honor the Brazilian lawyer and politician born in the city.
An attraction not to be missed is the 12 km trip to Tiradentes in the Maria Fumaça, a century-old locomotive that comes out of the railway complex of São João Del Rei, listed as Cultural Heritage by Iphan.
The city also celebrates its religious tradition through the baroque musical activity and ceremonies such as the Festa do Divino and Semana Santa, in which tourists and citizens decorate the streets with delicate decorative carpets made with sand, sawdust and flower petals.
The nearest airport to São João Del Rey is the Belo Horizonte International Airport, located 185 km and receiving regular flights from Miami, Lisbon, Panama and Orlando.
Departing from Belo Horizonte, you can catch a bus to São João Del Rei, which is about 185 km from the capital.
Personal or rental vehicles
São João Del Rei is located 185 km from Belo Horizonte and you can rent a car to ride around town. This small map can help you get around in São João Del Rei.
Personal or rental vehicle
The best way to visit São João Del Rei is by car. Rent a car and use this map to find yourself around town.
You can rent a bike to ride around the historic streets of São João Del Rei. This small map can help you get around the city.