Ouro Prêto (Black Gold) lies in the state Minas Gerais of Brazil. It is a true colonial
gem with wonderful baroque buildings and churches. Vila Rica do Ouro Prêto, the full
name of the city, was founded at the end of the 17th century (1698) when it became the
center of the gold rush.
The town comes to live during Semana Santa (Holy Week) when the streets are decorated with flowers and colorful processions parade through the picturesque streets.
Ouro Prêto was the place of riches when the gold rush began in the 1800's. Many wonderful churches and colonial houses were built during that time. The name "Black Gold" was given to the city due to the fact that the color of the gold found here was... black.
The city has many extremely ornate (gold leafed) Baroque churches. The religious architecture
and sculpture reached its zenith during the mid 1700's under the skillful hands of Antonio Francisco Lisboa, better
known as Aleijadinho ("Little Cripple"). The Church of São
Francisco de Assis and Nossa Senhora do Carmo are his masterpieces.
Slaves did the hard work in the gold mines. There's an amazing story of a black king and his tribe being taken to Ouro Prêto to work the mines. After working for many years in the gold mines the king was able to buy not only his freedom but that of his tribe as well.
It is a real joy to discover this wonderful city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every corner has a surprise and the city's colonial houses are very well preserved.
The time of the year to be in Ouro Prêto is without doubt during Semana Santa
(Holy Week). Streets are then decorated with an array of beautiful flowers. Processions
parade during the week and the city really comes to live.
On the last Sunday during Semana Santa the town is crowded for a procession that lasts many hours. The Bible is being acted out by the local people and the mood is just brilliant.
The highlight is the gathering of the crowd when the Father blesses the community and the city from the balcony of one of the many amazing churches Ouro Prêto has.
Other attractions that can be visited when you are staying here are:
The Museum of Betrayal (Museu da Inconfidencia), this museum of Brazilian history at Praça Tiradentes was at one time a prison;
Praça Tiradentes, the main town square;
Nossa Senhora do Pilar Church, this baroque style church is very lavish inside, reflecting a period in which religious orders competed with each other to build the richest church;
Museum of Mineralogy of Ouro Prêto, one of the largest collections of rocks and minerals in the world, including diamonds, uranium, topaz, quartz, agates and much more, is housed inside the School of Mines;
Minas do Ouro (Gold Mines), a tour takes you into the eerie depths of this 18-mile long gold mine to an underground lake.
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