By the hills of Ouro Preto: things to do in a 1 day trip.
January 1, 1970
by Dani Souza
A little of geology and history…
Have you ever heard about Ouro Preto? No?! I want to share with you a little bit of this wonderful city where I live!
Ouro Preto is a small town close to Belo Horizonte wich is the main city of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. This place was one of the most populated cities in the world in the year of 1700, and guess why? Because the treasures provided by its geology! Ouro Preto and surrounding regions are situated in a very deformed region called Iron Quadrangle. In this region was found rocks that was formed in the earliest stages of the Earth’s life, like 2.9-3.2 Billion years ago to be precise, or the Archean Eon, until rocks that are 1.75 Billion years old, it was formed in the Precambrian Eon, before the existence of the dinosaurs!
The rocks found in the Iron quadrangle consists in a miscellaneous of meta-sedimentary sequences and meta-igneous rocks, the many deformational events imposed to this rocks and also the igneous interactions, leave to us a lot of treasures like: gold, diamonds, topaz and the Iron, this last one is now the most explored in this region. The gold and diamond exploration, bring the people and the firsts developments, as a consequence the culture was influenced by the African, Brazilian Indians and European people. Another contribution of the geology here are the hills of the city, coming here be prepared to get up and down all day long, but don’t worry ! There is a lot of amazing places to take a break, see the landscape, take pictures while drink a local beer!
So lets begin our tour!
As a geology student I learn that it is very helpful to do a zoon out of the region visited, then choose some spots to detail it, so the first stop is Morro São Sebastião viewpoint, to access it you should:
1-Have a good disposition to walk, I promise is worthy, look at this view:
2- Have a car if its possible, in a few minutes you get there without trouble…
In this point you can visualize the Tiradentes’s square, with the museums of the School of Mines and Inconfidencia mineira, the São Francisco de Assis, Nossa senhora da carmo church and many of the buildings with its Portuguese colonial styles. If its sunny you can see the Itacolomi peak either.
Going down, in the principal square you can go two both museums there, in the school of mines you can have a immersion in geology and appreciate one of the most complete and beautiful mineral collection that you can imagine! In the Inconfidencia museum you can have a good overview of the history of the city, the state of Minas Gerais and also the Brazil.
Some tips about where to eat
If you came in the morning, by this time you start to get hungry and wondering to find a place to eat, a lots of people will recommend and try to guide you to restaurants that could not be so good and expensive… I have 3 suggestions for you at this topic:
- Subway! Yes, this city have one its very well localized in the Conde de Bobadela’s street, a.k.a Direita (strait ) street!
- Simple food, home made and typical: Nazareno’s Restaurant, it is on the Flores street, easy to find near by the school of mines. Is very popular, most of the costumers are from Ouro Preto, they serve meals with the tipical rice and beans, salad, you just choose the meat.
- Sabor de Minas restaurant, its near by the Pilar Cathedral. It’s a Self-service restaurant, you choose wherever you want and go to balance, has a variety of salads, meat, and tipical food from here. If you choosed to walk after the museums and its after 2 PM, this is the best choice, stay open til 4 PM.
More places to visit
Continuing from the Tiradentes’s square, go down on the Direita’s Street, turn in the second street to the right, in this spot are the movie theater, the post mail service, the “Casa dos contos” Museum. This last one always have free arts exhibition in its galleries. Is a very beautiful building and you can visit for free or for very low cost, this was the place were the money was made , has a very nice place to take pictures in its second floor. Sometimes the botanical garden of Ouro Preto can be accessed by the museum, but not all the year, unfortunately.
Following trough the same street you going to meet the São José street, a.k.a. Bank’s street, you find here the principal banks of the city, if you need money, that’s what you looking for. In the end of the Bank’s street you can choose two ways to follow, one in the right, takes you to good cafe’s and a beautiful church, the other, to the left, guides you to the Pilar cathedral by the Escadinha’s Street and from there you can go to the train station, the Pilar cathedral is a very popular church because of your amount of gold inside, its very beautiful, but expensive to go inside if you aren’t a local.
Want have a coffee and relax a little?
Where have some coffe…
There is a cafe shop, called Chocolateria Ouro Preto that is very cozy, with good prices, you just have to turn to the right by the end of the Bank’s street. Also near and forward that, has a library and cafe called 7 Palavras, this one its smaller, but very confortable, you can try wines there too, is the perfect combination: books and coffee, or wine, yummy!!
And a beer…
This last years local beer turn very common in Minas Gerais, in Ouro Preto you should try the Ouro Pretana beer, they have pale ale, bock, pilsen and wheat beer. The most popular brand is Backer, they are from Belo Horizonte and have a lots of different beers, if you enjoy you should try it! A good place to buy is in the main market, called Cooperouro if you want to take as gifts, but you also find in smaller places. I indicate a few places to sit down have beer and nice conversation:
- Barroco’s Bar, located in the Barra Neighborhood, has the common brazilian beers and the locals, is popular to the students, is cheap and have good caipirinha too, you have to try the snack of the house: Coxinha. Its typical, delicious, made with a dough of potatoes with chicken inside. The place is not sophisticated but very friendly and clean during the day, and when isn’t full.
- Escada Abaixo’s restaurant or Café das Gerais located in the Direita’s street, nice place, cozy, clean and sophisticated. Not that cheap, but not that expensive perfect place to couples!
- Do Carmo’s churchyard, Igreja do carmo, beside the Inconfidencia museum. Is a nice place to have a beer, in Brazil its allowed to drink everywhere, so you can bring your beer and just chill. Here you going to have a very beautiful sunset and its a really nice to take pictures, but closes at 5 PM, so don’t waste the chance get there!
Oh! The day ends… But there is more!
If you follow this tips you going to have a very nice 1 day tour in Ouro Preto, but there is so much more to find out here that you’ll want to come back! If you follow this blog you will have more tips and places to go in this series about Ouro Preto: waterfalls, natural parks and much, much more!
Come with me in this trip!