Situated in the heart of the state of Minas Gerais, the town of Ouro Preto is one of Brazil’s historical gems. The town, which literally translates to Black Gold, was at the heart of the gold rush in Brazil and in the mid eighteenth century was one of the largest and most important towns in the Americas.
Nowadays the gold has dried up but many of the mines are still open and are extracting other minerals, allowing visitors the chance to venture underground and explore.
The town has huge significance in the history of Brazil as it was from here that the first independence movement against the Portuguese crown took place being led by a local man called Tiradentes. His uprising was put down but his name lives on in various squares, street names and a locally named town. When the independence movement finally was successful, Ouro Preto became known as the imperial city.
The city no longer has such an important role to play in modern day Brazil but is of great interest to a tourist and well worthy of a few days stay if you are keen on history. There is an abundance of mines, interesting churches and museums, particularly the Museu da Inconfidencia which focuses on the independence movement. Throughout the town can be seen works by Aleijandinho (the little cripple) who is one of Brazil’s most famous artists from the 18th century.
Ouro Preto combines perfectly with visits to other colonial towns in Minas Gerais such as Mariana and will be of particular interest to anyone keen on history.