don't miss out on Ouro Preto, the Jewel of colonial Brasil. or better when in Ouro Preto, Mariana should not be missed. connected by good roads its just a short trip, if you like have a look at my Ouro Preto page ...click on the link below
If you visit Mariana, don't miss the '"Mina da passagem", a former Gold Mine now used only for tourism. It is located about 10 minutes outside the town. If you take the bus from / to Ouro Preto, just ask the driver to stop you there, they know it very well.
The entrance costs around 15 R$. You will take a trolley (funny ride !) that will take about 120 meters deep, where the gold used to be extracted. Our guide was a young boy that spoke only portuguese, but some of them speak english. Minas Gerais was the heart of gold extraction that made the wealth of Portugal for years... and covers all the churches of the region.
Then you will arrive to a undergroung lake with pure cristal waters... it is too tempting not to take a bath in ! I had read about that before, so I was the only person that had taken a swimming costume ! It was great and a really original experience. Even if after i came out they told me that the water was full of arsenic (!) but if you don't drink it it's ok. Maybe it's even good for you : my legs were hurting from climbing Ouro Preto's streets and after the bath I felt much better !
So don't miss the mine. It's part of this region history and it alternates a bit with churches' visits.
if you are in the area of Ouro Preto, Mariana, Sao Joao del Rey....Congonhas would close the circle to view the masterpieces of Aleijadinho
here in Congonhas he finished, many say his Masterpiece..the man high statues of the 12 Apostles or Prophets.all in soap stone in the church yard of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos.
if you are interested in Aleijadinhos life and work, the website below is very good
and a Goldmine, the most importand and oldest Goldmine in Brasil. right at the passage to Ouro Preto.
a lake and waterfalls invite to rest, together with an exuberant flora and fauna. Marianas surroundings are truly beautiful
Between Ouro Preto and Mariana,you can find the best gold mine to visit," Minas De Passagem ".
There's an immense sysem of tunnels that goes down very deep,and than spreads horizontally.
Only a fraction of the mine is open to the public,but,for most of us,it's enough!
The descent to the mines is made in a antique steam powered cable car(though the guide told us the cable itself is new!!).
It gives you an idea how dangerous and claustrophobic a mine can be!!
Black slaves worked here,and as the guide said,many of them died in this site(not because of the cablecar as you can imagine when taking it!!), from dynamiting into the rock!
The guided tour,led by former miners,is short and quite informative,specially if the guys in the group ask the right questions!!
The mine is open from 09:00 to 18:00 daily,and the entrance we paid than was about 10 U.S. dollars.
Take any local bus that runs from Ouro Preto and Mariana and ask the driver to tell you when you get in the stop nearest the mine.