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. The boom ended with the depletion of the mines, but 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—Brazil's first—in 1980.
Ouro Preto is set in the hills below the Espinhaço Mountains. Visitors will find a wealth of religious art—including works by the sculptor Aleijadinho and painter Mestre Athayde—in the city's Baroque and Rococo churches. The historic center is a maze of narrow, hilly streets lined with red-roofed houses and storefronts. 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.
Other charming towns surround Ouro Preto. Mariana, Congonhas, Tiradentes, and São João del Rei—each has its own collection of ornate churches and winding streets. These locations, and other colonial cities in Minas Gerais state, can be reached by flights to Belo Horizonte.
Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Brazil and throughout South America. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.
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