Ouro Preto: the Capital of Brazilian Architecture

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Ouro Preto is a city located in Minas Gerais, in Southeast Brazil. A popular destination for overseas tourists and Brazilians alike, the city has a rich history and is famous for its colonial architecture.

Founded around 1711, it was originally named Villa Rica and was wealthy in terms of gold and precious stones. As a result the city gained significant importance and quickly attracted settlers, as the country’s main region for mining. Historically speaking, Ouro Preto is of significant importance as it has been the setting for many historical and cultural events. The most remembered is the Inconfidência Mineira (Minas Conspiracy), when the elite fought against the exploitation of gold in favour of better living conditions for the Brazilian people.

Furthermore, Ouro Preto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the cultural preservation of its colonial buildings, its steep and narrow cobblestone streets, and the baroque architecture of the museums and churches, created by the artist Antonio Francisco Lisboa, known as Aleijadinho. The Baroque style was the strong artistic movement of the time, said to represent a mix of spirituality and rationalism.

Just to give you a taste of what you can expect to find in Ouro Preto, we have prepared a list of special places for you to visit.

Praça Tiradentes

The main stage of the Inconfidência Mineira with many tourist attractions. (See below)

– Conjunto Alpoim

We start with the amazing colonial houses known as the Conjunto Alpoim. There are several houses, numbered 52-70, that were designed by Brigadier José Fernandes Pinto Alpoim. It is interesting to note that most of the houses in Ouro Preto have plaques that explain a little bit about the property’s history. And in this particular case, the three bars of the balconies are marked with the inscription “para memória do benefício imortal teu nome fica gravado neste metal” (in memory of your immortal benefit your name remains engraved in this metal). Legend says that the inscription was engraved by the local people of the time, and was left at the request of the governor’s mistress.

– Chafariz da Praça Tiradentes

Charming and with Baroque styling, the Chafariz da Praça Tiradentes (Fountain of Tiradentes Square) is part of the facade of the Museu da Inconfidência. Another interesting fact is that the fountain was inaugurated on the birthday of Dom Pedro II, and so there is an inscription to that effect; “Inaugurado em 2 de dezembro de 1846, 21º Aniversário de S. M. o Sr. Dom Pedro II, por ordem do Presidente da Província Quintiliano José da Silva”.

Museu da Inconfidência e Museu de Ciência e Técnica

Nothing is more worthwhile than an outing to the museums to deepen your understanding of the country’s history. The two museums can be found in the Praça Tiradentes and are housed in the buildings that were once the Government Palace (in the Colonial, Imperial and Republic eras), the old Town Hall and the jail of Villa Rica. The Museu da Inconfidência in particular is considered to be one of the most important in Brazil, on account of the letters, clothing and various artefacts that were once owned by famous characters of the 18th Century, as well as art by Aleijadinho and Ataíde.

– Igreja Nossa Senhora das Mercês e Misericórdia

Built in mid-1775, it was designed to replace a chapel that already existed on the same site. It underwent various renovations, including the construction of a central tower at the request of Manuel Francisco de Araujo. They say that Aleijadinho was paid six eights of gold for the risky work. Inside, in addition to the main altar, you can find the choir, four side altars and two pulpits carved in wood. Simply beautiful.

Still want more? This is just the start; the city has other must-see attractions! And if you have time, why not take a trip and discover the nearby historical cities of Mariana, Tiradentes and São João Del Rey.

To learn more about Ouro Preto and other attractions, visit the city’s site: http://www.ouropreto.mg.gov.br/

 

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