One and a half hour journey along the Estrada Real through countryside that became progressively greener, and we arrived in Ouro Preto. After the terror of driving down an almost 90° hill, we stopped in a town that is unimagineably picturesque. The houses are all low and colourful (such a contrast with Belo Horizonte), and every few metres you stumble on another church (the three most famous are Igreja São Francisco de Assis, Igreja Nossa Senhora do Pilar and Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo). It’s set in beautiful rolling hills, meaning there are plenty of cachoeiras and countryside to discover.
From top going clockwise: Praça Tiradentes, Igreja Sao Francisco and a view of the city.
We were only there for a weekend, and didn’t have time to do the city justice, we didn’t visit any of the museums or the mines, but we did look into some of the churches, I’m sure they’re all worth visiting though. São Francisco was designed by Alejadinho, and the inside is beautiful, I always love a painted ceiling, and this one is incredible. You’re not allowed to take pictures, and my sneaky one is also, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Nossa Senhora do Pilar apparently has over 300kg of gold inside, I found it too over the top to be beautiful but it was impressive. Nossa Senhora do Carmo is still closed for renovation, but there is a small shop to the right of the shop (recognisable by the shar pei in the window) which used to be the house of the architect of the church which is worth a visit. We were allowed to look around the house, and try some of the cachaça the family makes.
The square outside São Francisco always has an artisinal market outside it which is lovely, but Praça Tiradentes is the centre of the historic centre, it has some lovely shops and bars around it. I will be going back to buy Christmas presents there! There was also capoeira there at night. What made the town even more special than the beauty of it was the kindness of the residents, everyone we met was lovely. I wish I could commute from there to UFMG, because I’m in love with it.
On Sunday, we decide to visit Mariana. We were told that there were cachoeiras worth visiting, and a village Lavras Novas that was worth a visit, but Mariana won. Mariana has grown more than Ouro Preto, and it was more modern, but it still had lovely churches and places to visit. We just stopped by the tourist office, found the historic centre, and wandered from praça Gomes Freire (where we had lunch at a tiny self service buffet that was lush) up to Igreja São Pedro dos Clérgios and back down again.
After a quick açaí we headed back to the big city, as our designated driver didn’t want to drive at night. I would recommend doing the same as her, as the Estrada Real isn’t always well lit and there are subtle speed bumps once in a while. I came home, unpacked and then repacked, because I’m moving house tomorrow. I wasn’t very happy here, my flatmate was lovely, but my landlady was crazy (neurotic about cleaning, and just odd in general). Other than my flatmate the thing I liked the most about this flatmate was that the water filter does ice cold water. That’s it, that is not the sign of a good house. So I’m moving to the other side of university, I’m hoping I’ll be happier there, the larger, wackier house and the pool tells me I will be.
I’m off to Rio on Tuesday to spend 5 days there, so I will probably only post when I get back, so have a great week!