Day Trips in Belo horizonte

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Belo Horizonte was planned and built specifically to be the capitol of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Designed on a grid system modeled after Washington D.C., the city only dates back to the end of the 19th century. Wide, tree-lined streets and numerous parks highlight the advantages of being in a young city. But surrounding this modern metropolis is some rich history. The Minas Gerais area was home to a major gold and mining rush towards the end of the 17th century, and if you leave Belo Horizonte to explore some of its neighboring cities, you will find ample evidence of the rich history of this part of Brazil.

Ouro Preto

The city of "Black Gold," which is the literal meaning of Ouro Preto, became a major hub of the gold rush and trade in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Later it was the sight of the first attempted uprising against Portuguese rule, before Brazil finally did gain its Independence in 1822. The town is home to many great sights and attractions, including the oldest theater in South America, the Teatro Municipal, and the beautiful Itacolomi State Park. There's also the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Pilar, the oldest church in the city, which completed construction in 1731 and holds in its basement the Museum of Sacred Art. There are also numerous museums in Ouro Preto, highlighting the rich history of the town and its surroundings.

Sao Joao del Rei

The largest of the colonial mining towns in Minas Gerais, Sao Joao del Rei is about 4 hours away by bus from Belo Horizonte. Located in the town are the Igreja de Sao Francisoc de Assis, an 18th century church and a small but interesting railway museum. A vintage steam locomotive runs the 14 kilometer trip between Sao Joao del Rei and Tiradentes, another Minas Gerais mining town. If you have the time, this makes for a very enjoyable trip and a great way to see the countryside.


Of all the towns around Belo Horizonte that came from the 17th and 18th century mining booms, Tiradentes may be the best preserved. Filled with some beautiful buildings and churches, it is truly possible to feel that you have gotten lost in time when you walk some of Tiradentes' cobblestone streets. Home to a food festival in August, Tiradentes is a great diversion from the more active and modern Belo Horizonte.

December 26, 2009 new by cjr236

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