Praca Tiradentes (Tooth puller square) is named after the Brazilian freedom rebel Joaquim José da Silva Xavier. It's situated in the centre of the city and home to two museums (the school of Mines and Museum of Inconfidencia). Wear some good shoes round here as the streets are cobbled and quite steep.
Ouro Preto has an array of churches in many architectural styles and bright colours. The most notable are Igreja de São Francisco de Assis (on the hill), Nossa Senhora da Conceiçao and Nossa Senhora do Carmo. The colonial architecture in this part of Minas Gerais is famous and there are few signs of modern life here.
The town of Ouro Preto is a lovely sight, and with its imposing steep streets, it means you can get a good work out admiring the panorama. It is small enough to see it all on foot. Work your way round the cobbled streets and take your time doing souvenir shopping.
The whole town is a sculpture, composed by hundreds of churches and colonial buildings. It's a delight for our eyes, getting the top of one hill, and... to see the other. Absolutely marvelous.
Though very steep, the town is small, and easy to see in one or two days, if you skip the details. Otherwise.. only the baroque churches are more then 300!
Right in Ouro Preto, the visitable area of this mine, several kilometers long and dug by the slave Chico Rei, in search of fortune and freedom, is not much than a hole.
Anyway, specially for the kids, it is funny (Horacio, almost two meters high was the star).
There are some mines opened to public, allowing to recreate the hard conditions supported by the old miners.
We visited two of them: the mine of Chico Rei, right in Ouro Preto, and a bigger one in Passagem, close to Mariana, where we descent to the mine using an old trolley (so old that Fernanda decided to stay out of it - claustrophobia, she said...).
In our way up we had a demonstration about how to search gold in the mixture of rocks and water.
I was very pleased to spend a half day at Ouro Preto, just to be able to stroll around and click the camera so many times as the town was a wonderful example of the old colonial architecture. It is a world heritage site with many old buildings and cobblestone streets. The name Ouro Preto means black gold as this was a scene of the gold rush two hundred years ago and it is possible to take a tour to several mines. There are many churches to visit and museums.
Have you ever felt like spending an entire day in a museum fall of rocks? Yes? Howabout a museum with more rocks and minerals than you will find anywhere else in the world? If your a rockhound then this museum is for you and probaly not anyone else. I thought it was worth the price of admission but I could only take about a hour before I was bored to death but at least I can say I have visited one of the worlds best rock museum!
Praça Tiradentes, 20, ☎ 31 3559-1597 / 3559-3119. This mineralogy museum has a quite varied collection of minerals from quartz to diamond to uranium, including many rare specimens. Children have free admission. R$5.
The Museum of Betrayel is dedicated to the memory of the Inconfidência Mineira, an unsuccessful 1789 revolt against Portuguese rule which was inspired by the American Revolution. The building, itself one of the best extant specimens of colonial baroque architecture, houses the remains of some the revolutionaries, a library and archives, as well as works by artists of the period, including works by Aleijadinho and Manuel da Costa Ataíde. R$2.
The best part of any visit to Ouro Preto is the beautiful town and its quaint cobblestone streets that wind up and around the rolling hills. And the best way to experience this is to explore the town the old fashioned way....by foot! Following the cobblestone streets will lead to many different experiences that will delight the eye from unique shops to the many different churches and courtyards of Ouro Preto. The only way to properly appreciate this wonderful town is to take the time to slowly amble through the town at your own pace and soak in the beautiful blend of Spanish and Brazilian culture!
Located on the outside of town this once bustling gold mine was the reason Ouro Preto was the object of affection by the Spanish...over 250 tons of gold is a testament to that. It also happens to be the largest gold mine in the world that allows tours, and what a tour it is! They take you straight down into the earth on a rickety mining cart that probaly pre-dates the automobile. Its a very extensive mine, although only part of it was open to the public; well-lit by hundreds of light bulbs, large underground rooms and tunnels, roofs supported by pillars of rock, underground lakes, and some mining implements. Returning to the surface one can visit a small mining museum and outdoor exhibits of mining equipment. The mine tour costs 17 Reais (US$8.50) per person.
If you love colonial style churches and don't mind walking up a lot of very steep hills then Ouro Preto is the place for you. The town is full of churches that sit on top of the many rolling hills of this beautiful region of Brazil. Steep cobblestone streets connect the different churches and from every hill top you can see the next church in the distance. It makes for a fun filled day of exercising both your body and your mind. So be sure to bring your walking shoes and bible and enjoy your visit to a church lover's paradise.
Who would think that Oscar Niemeyer of all people would find his way to this little colonial pearl, but he did and he build a house here.
It´s suppose to be shaped like a piano and many people will probaply say it´s ugly, but a few people also likes the works of Niemeyer so i thought i would just give it a mention here.
The train to Mariana is one of the most scenic things you can do in Ouro Preto.
It´s an old train with wooden decor that winds it way through the mountains to Mariana which is not far away, but it takes about an hour because the track is very steep at times.
The only people who might consider not doing the trip are people who are afraid of heights as there are some very steep climbs right on the side of the mountain.
The price for the ride is (in june 2010) 18 reais for a single ticket and 30 reais for a return ticket.
In 1881 Don Pedro II inaugurated the West Minas Railroad, a railway of about 775km (465 miles). This route is a part of the few left that still operate as a heritage railway. The American steam locomotive, Maria Fumaça, dates from the beginning of the 20th century and it is in excellent working condition. The old steam trains, once carrying passengers and cargoes of gold, have been perfectly restored and are now given up to tourism . They make their way through the verdant countryside of Minas and its the best way to move and enjoy nature at the same time.
Being part of a touristic project these trains started functioning again in 2006 and have been a great success. It takes 55 minutes to cover the 18 km to Mariana.
From Ouro Prêto it starts at 11:00 in the morning and 4:00 in the evening.
From Mariana to Ouro Prêto it runs at 9:00 in the morning and 2:00 in the afternoon.
For more photos go to Mariana page Maria Fumaça ,
São João del Rei West Railway - Maria Fumaça,
and Tiradentes Maria Fumaça
Click on photo...!