historical city of Ouro Preto is located some 96 kilometers from
Belo Horizonte and is the largest and most homogeneous Portuguese
colonial style settlement in the world.
Founded at the end of the 17th century as “Vila Rica do Ouro Preto”
(Black Gold) the city went through a time of riches and power
for many years but with the exhaustion of the gold mines in the 19th
century, the city's influence declined. Fortunately many churches,
bridges and fountains remain as a testimony to its past prosperity
and the exceptional talent of the Baroque sculptor Aleijadinho.
The town is still full of architectural highlights from the Gold
Rush days and has little signs of modern urban life. Since Ouro
Preto is considered one of the two best-preserved colonial towns of
the nation, you cannot afford to miss it. The many churches,
decorated with gold, the works of Aleijadinho, wealthy mansions and
the cobblestone streets make the town a must-see.
Due to its history and preservation efforts Ouro Preto was the first
Brazilian town to be declared a world's heritage by UNESCO.
In 1789, Vila Rica was the starting point of the Inconfidência
Mineira, a failed attempt to break from Portugal and to form a
Brazilian republic. Ouro Preto was the capital of the state of Minas
Gerais from 1822 until 1897, when the government moved to the new
and planned city of Belo Horizonte.