The Romance Of Lost Gold And Days Of Yore At Minas Gerais
The state of Minas Gerais in Brazil holds important historical, architectural, and ecological riches rightfully housing more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other state in Brazil.
Sometime in the early 1700’s, explorers from Sao Paulo unearthed the treasure trove of gold mine in the area, resulting in a surreal gold rush. The event was fateful for colonial Brazil. The capital was shifted south from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. While the Portuguese crown became heavier with jewellery, within half a century the boom died down.
Post gold, however mining enthusiast found traces of steel and bingo, another huge mining business opened its door. Meanwhile, the resident Mineiro culture developed. The archetypal, simple, self-reliant and hospitable to strangers are the distinctive traits of the land. The history of mining and ranching lead to a unique Mineiro cuisine, with rich stews and sauces that allures explorers till date.
Today, it is a leading manufacturing state, with a new planned city Belo Horizonte (meaning the Beautiful Horizon) which is the capital. Take your refuge there while you actually soak in the old charm of old gold mining towns at the Peripheri, Ouro Preto, Mariana and Tiradentes – the protected gems of high baroque architecture.
Places To See In Minas Gerais
Ouro Preto – Brazil’s purest collection of Baroque art and architecture lies here, dating back to the era of Gold Rush! A World Heritage Site, as conferred by UNESCO, it houses six famous museums and no fewer than 13 churches set among low hills and picture-book cottages.
Congonhas do Campo – A dozen of life-sized carvings of The Prophets, located on the esplanade of the Bom Jesus de Matosinhos Sanctuary; Congonhas do Campo is a masterworks of sculpture by Aleijadinho. The mythological prophets are stolid, grey and severe in their demeanor.
Tiradentes – Pink slate streets, an occasional horse-drawn cart, lace curtains and brightly painted shutters, all these make up for the old world charm of colonial Brazil. Look out for period furnishings, gold-plated decoration and sacred art while taking stroll around the town.
Diamantina – Diamantina is surrounded by iron-red hills rising to a rocky plain, showcasing an astonishing richness in orchids. When in this town, do not miss white-walled cottages and churches that cascade down an irregular slope. To enrich your mind, visit Museu do Diamante, where period mining equipment, documents and furnishings are displayed and grisly implements of torture used against the slaves are kept in a back room; the humble birthplace of President Juscelino Kubitschek and the Casa da Glória, a pair of white and blue stone structures linked by a wooden bridge.
And if you thought that is all that describes Minas Gerais, think again. For plenty of natural springs of places such as São Lourenço and Caxambu, thought to be rich in healing power, have attracted the Brazilian elite for more than a century.
You can also find some time out to explore the unusual town of São Thomé das Letras, famed for the claimed extra-terrestrials visits and where mystics & bohemians wait for the advent of a new world.
What To Eat When In Minas Gerais
Mineiro (meaning from Minas Gerais) gastronomy resembles the true essence of Brazilian cooking for many people, with a bit of influence from Italy. Indulge in their thick brothes cooked with meat parts and beans. The meat skewers serves with salsa dip is the perfect quick bite while you explore the night life out there.
Several of these cities have excellent hiking nearby, the old city attracts with quiet visual appeals. It’s enough to simply contemplate the beauty of the surrounding mountains and the architectural creativity of man from the glorious days of yore!