Ouro Preto & Beyond
Ouro Preto is a prized jewel of Brazil’s colonial heritage. Founded in 1698, this city soon became the capital of the Portuguese gold rush.
Ouro Preto’s mines financed seven decades of expansion and opulence before their depletion effectively ended the boom.
Evidence of golden-age splendor can still be seen in Ouro Preto’s fine fountains, plazas, and churches.
To protect these treasures, UNESCO declared the city center a World Heritage Site in 1980—a first for Brazil.
Baroque and Rococo churches
Ouro Preto is set in the hills below the Espinhaço Mountains.
Visitors here will find a wealth of religious art in the city’s Baroque and Rococo churches —including works by the sculptor Aleijadinho and painter Mestre Athayde.
Ouro Preto’s historic center is a maze of narrow, hilly streets, lined with red-roofed houses, and charming storefronts.
Museum of Mineralogy
The Museum of Mineralogy, located on the north side of Tiradentes Plaza, houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of minerals.
Brazil holds 60% of the world’s gem reserves, including Imperial topaz and precious amethyst.
Mine tours are available just outside the city.
Ouro Preto Neighboring Towns
Other delightful towns surround Ouro Preto, including:
- Sao Joao del Rei
Each offers its own unique collection of ornate churches, sunny plazas, and cobbled streets.
These locations and other colonial cities in Minas Gerais state can be reached by flights to Belo Horizonte.
Inhotim Botanical Garden
The 5,000-acre Inhotim botanical garden and contemporary art gallery can also be included in itineraries to this region.
“I had always loved beautiful and artistic things, though before leaving America I had had a very little chance of seeing any.”