Getting Relaxed and Cultural in Ouro Preto
For history lovers, Ouro Preto is a fantastic destination. The city is located in a valley in the state of Minas Gerais, and is home to some of the most beautiful natural museums in Brazil. The name Ouro Preto (Black Gold), is derived from the amount of gold found in the area around 1698. Since The 1750s there hasn’t been gold in the area, however the city has preserved an incredible history, actually one of the most interesting in Brazil.
How to get there:
If you are travelling by car, Ouro Preto is about 600km from Sao Paulo, 500km from Rio de Janeiro and 100km from Belo Horizonte. If you are travelling by plane, the nearest airport is Belo Horizonte, there I recommend you rent a car.
Where to stay:
Ouro Preto has a wonderful colonial style, and most of the hotels are built in an antique house format. They are all very charming, so finding a good hotel should not be hard. The best hotels in town are the charming Hotel Solar de Maria and the elegant Hotel Pousada do Arcanjo. Other great picks are the hotel Ville Real, Sinha Olimpia and Pousada Mondego. If you are on a budget a good pick is Mirante do Café, or Pousada dos Contos. Since the city is quite small, you won’t have a big problem with the location of your hotel, if you’d like to be close to restaurants pick hotels closer to the downtown area; there you can walk just about anywhere.
Where to eat:
The state of Minas Gerais is famous for its typical cuisine, which includes feijoada (rice, beans, meat, and other sides), bolo de fuba (cornmeal cake), pamonha (sweet corn cake) and much more. There are many options of local food that you must try on your visit to Ouro Preto, so be prepared to indulge! Most of the bars and restaurants in Ouro Preto are on Rua Conde de Bobadela (Rua Direita), however some key places which cannot be missed are: Bené Da Flauta, very charming with a gorgeous view; Casa do Ouvidor which is located in an antique colonial style mansion and serves an elegant candle light dinner; and Chafariz which is specialised in typical Minas Gerais food (Portuguese: comida mineira). Another great choice is the restaurant Memorial Claudio Manoel, which is set in a Brazilian poet’s old house, there you should order the do tempo da vovo, its delicious!
What to do:
The attractions in Ouro Preto are the city itself. The churches, monuments and museums are gorgeous and tell the story of the city. The most famous churches are Igreja São Francisco de Assis and Nossa Senhora do Pilar, however there are many beautiful ones around town. My two favorite museums are the Museu do Oratório, which is located in one of Aleijadinho’s (most famous Brazilian sculptor of the time, and responsible for many buildings in Ouro Preto) old homes, the museum has a beautiful and exclusive religious art collection from XVII to XX century. My other favorite museum is the Museu do Aleijadinho, which has many works of art of the talented sculptor Aleijadinho. A fun trip is the Maria-Fumaca (train ride) to Mariana a near by city, you feel as if you are back in the 20th century. One of the places which is a must visit is to the Chico Rei mine, its amazing to see all the history that happened in there.
The city of Ouro Preto is best fit for couples looking for a relaxed and cultural getaway with great dining. You might even compare it to a trip to a historic European city. The busiest time in Ouro Preto is July for the winter festival, and during Easter week, however if you are looking for peace and quiet, I recommend staying clear of those dates.
Written by Brazilian Guru, a travel blog written directly from Brazil! Check us out for travel tips, good restaurants, fabulous parties, beautiful beaches and only the best of Brazil.
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