Hear about travel to Minas Gerais, Brazil as the Amateur Traveler talks to Juergen Keller from southamerica.travel about the colonial heart of Brazil.
Jeurgen says of Minas Gerais, “the colonial heart of Brazil starts along the coast of Brazil where the Portuguese landed. Soon after they had populated the shores of Brazil, they got orders from Europe to go inland and search for gold. This was all done in the very beginning starting in Rio de Janeiro. The colonial heartland of Brazil is the hinterland of Rio, and if you look at the map of today, it’s the part between Rio de Janeiro and the capital of Brazil, Brasilia. Those mountains were thought to be the source of the silver and the gold that Brazil held at the time.”
“From there, in the beginning, starting from the little port of Paraty a little bit to the southeast of Rio, the Portuguese were told ‘go up the mountain and find me the gold’.” We are heading for this area because this is where we will find all the riches the Portuguese left.
We start, like these early colonizers, in Paraty. Paraty itself is proposed as a UNESCO site. It was many years before the town was connected by road to Rio because of the steep mountains that surround it, which preserved the character of Paraty. It is best enjoyed from a boat on the water.
Just behind Paraty is Serra de Bocaina National Park, which goes up to 6,000′ in elevation. From the sea, the mountains look like a wall. The road was only paved 4 years ago.
These days we are not looking for gold to mine but at the towns, villages, and churches built with the gold and silver they found in Minas Gerais. The towns look like towns in Portugal, but as soon as you get into the churches “, you are surprised by the gold.”
Caxambu is a spa town once enjoyed by the emperor of Brazil to relax in mineral water, which made the place famous in Brazil.
Tiradentes was never an important town, so it never developed and retains its colonial feel. It has become an artistic hub for modern artists.
Congonhas is the location of the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas, which is a UNESCO site. The 12 sculptures of old testament prophets around the church are some of the best works of Brazilian sculptor and architect Aleijadinho.
Ouro Preto was the hub of the mining in the area and was at one time the capital. It was the richest town. It later became the origin of an independence movement from Brazil. “It looks like a Portuguese town… just richer.”
Inhotim hosts one of the “finest modern art museums in all of South America”. There are something like 20 small museums in the town.
Minas Gerais is known as one of the places with the best food and some of the richest history in Brazil. Come see why some of Brazil’s riches are still in its colonial heartland.
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