Congonhas Things to Do
Let me translate some words of prof. Moacyr Vasconcellos: “In only 200 meters in straight line, in the modest town of Congonhas do Campo, in the mountains of Minas Gerais, thousands of kilometres from the big centres of western civilizations, there are concentrated 78 sculptures which compose the most fabulous ensemble of baroque art in the world:...more
The church of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos is surrounded by a large collection of some of the most famous statues of Brazil. Several times showed in Brazilian novels that fill Portuguese TV, it was for us more like a meeting then a discovery. But we enjoyed it (specially Fernanda).more
When people come to visit Congonhas it´s almost always because they want to see bom jesus do matosinhos and especially the 12 apostles done by Aleijadinho.The basilica itself is a quite small basilica, but the frontal part of it is very impressive with the statues of the apostles.The work of Aleijadinho is really impressive and worth seeing even if...more
In six chapels representing Stations of the Cross, Aleijadinho sculpted 66 figures in cedar. (Assistants may have helped him or may have done some of the figures under his supervision.)Sculpted between 1796 and 1799, the figures were later colored by Aleijadinho's friend, Manuel da Costa Athayde — the greatest of Brazil's Baroque painters — and...more
An interesting -- perhaps revealing -- feature of the 'chapel figures' is that the evil Romans have on boots of the type worn by Portuguese soldiers in Aleijadinho's time.Aleijadinho was contemporary with Tiradentes and the abortive Inconfidencia revolt -- harshly put down by the Portuguese authorities.Putting the Romans in Portuguese footwear has...more
Alongside each of the 12 prophets is a tablet with a passage from his book — chiseled in garbled Latin by Aleijadinho.An interesting feature of the prophets — and of the wooden figures in the chapels — is the shape of their eyes. It reflects the influence of Chinese art stemming from Portugal's intercourse with that country through its colony at...more
Cova do Daniel: Decent Food, Convenient Location
Located near the foot of the Sanctuary do Bom Jesus, the Cova do Daniel serves good, hearty Minas Gerais and other dishes at a reasonable price.
It's a good place for lunch if you're going to spend the morning and/or afternoon admiring Aleijadinho's masterpieces.
UPDATE 2008: Unlike 1998, when my guide and I were the only ones lunching at Cova do Daniel, there were several other diners in the restaurant when my wife and I ate here on a cool day in June.
Favorite Dish: The menu is filled mostly with beef and lamb dishes. MIne tasted as if it had been prepared in a pressure cooker. Filling but distinctly not gourmet.
UPDATE 2008: The menu has expanded. I ordered espaguete a carbonara at R$25,30 (US$16.87) with a Coca-Cola (R$2; US$1.33). The pasta and sauce were delicious; the bacon was all but inedible. My wife had tutu mineiro, lamb and vegetables, at R$39,50 (US$26.30) -- she said it was excellent -- and mineral water (R$2, US$1.33).Related to:
- Women's Travel
Near the Sanctuary: Souvenirs and Blankets
Several shops line the street at the foot of the Sanctuario do Bom Jesus and a lane to one side.
Mostly they sell souvenirs -- books of illustrations, replicas of Aleijadinho's work, and various devotional items. A couple also had some well made blanket and items of apparel, notably shawls.
Prices were reasonable even in 1998, when the exchange rate was US$1=R$1.2. With the rate now fluctuating between US$1=R$2.7 or 3, I'd expect them to be ridiculously cheap.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Congonhas Tourist Traps
Things to avoid
In Congonhas, the Bom Jesus courtyard is surrounded by shops pawning off trinkets to tourists. These are not worth your time. Come here for the art and leave. At the base of the courtyard, on the left as you are leaving, is a white and blue restaurant that does decent Minas Food, though.
Congonhas Off The Beaten Path
Close to Congonhas and easy to join in the same visit, Tiradentes seems son of Congonhas and Parati. The problem is that you need to visit all of them to understand what I mean...
At least it shows the Portuguese colonial architecture, very similar with Parati, together wiht the baroque style that gets its top in Congonhas (Ouro Preto is an apart world).Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel