Click for more information about Minas Gerais
2009 Feb by Marcos Bastos
Juiz de Fora is located in the mountains and it's near Rio de Janeiro (a pleasant two hour drive). When I was visiting my cousin 14 years ago, fell in love with the city, saw a job offer, applied for it, and here I am. There are around 500,000 inhabitants and very good universities here. The night life is pretty cool and people are very friendly.The state of Minas Gerais, where Juiz de Fora is located, is famous for its hospitality and for having small cities, where people live a simple and calm life; it seems that "hurry" and "rush" do not exist in these cities dictionaries. My city, in spite of its 500,000 inhabitants is a mix of these two types. It offers almost everything a big metropolis does, but it's a great place to live a calm life. If you ever come to Minas Gerais, you have to visit the historical cities: OURO PRETO, TIRADENTES - to name a few. There, you'll be able to see scores of historical buildings and churches and get to know the feeling of what Minas Gerais is about. |
2007 Feb by Veikko Huhtala*
Minais Gerais is the fourth largest of the states of Brazil. We visited there on the way from Goiania to Sao Paulo. We stopped in Uberlandia, which is almost westernmost town of the state. After Belo Horizonte it is the biggest town in the state. Minais Gerais is inland state without any connection with Atlantic Ocean. State capital Belo Horizonte is sixth largest city of Brazil by population, with 2,5 million inhabitants. As normally when we were visiting in Brazil, we travelled by bus. It is the cheapest way to see country side and the bus network is good enough to go almost everywhere. |
1986 Oct by Jorge Sanchez
YEAR 2016: A full day visiting Uberlandia against my will. I had no intention to stop in Uberlandia. My travel plans included the visit to three UNESCO little towns in Minas Gerais: Diamantina, Congonhas plus Ouro Preto. But the bus from Goiania did not go to any of those places, not even to Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais capital), but only to Uberlandia, and from Uberlandia I had no other bus to Belo Horizonte until the evening, so I got stuck in Uberlandia for the whole day, from early in the morning until 10 PM.
In fact Uberlandia is not a historic city with many tourist attractions (like pretty Diamantina, Congonha or Ouro Preto). The place was first visited by the horrible and criminal bandeirantes (also known as paulistas because they came from Sao Paulo), those sinister portuguese negreros who kidnaped indians to slave them, because in Portugal colonies slavery was permitted, while in Hispanic America it was forbidden by the spanish government from Madrid and the indians were spanish citizens.
Uberlandia only developed as city much later, in the XIX century, when Brazil was independent from Portugal. I requested tourist brochures in the information office inside the bus terminal, and then resolved to get to know the town, of which I did not know anything. As usual, when I arrive to a place for the first time, I have three goals, to visit the religious places, the central market and to drink a local beer. I then started by the beer for breakfast, in the same bus terminal, then I walked to the oldest church, a small but pretty little church (much more beautiful than the big cathedral, which was close to that church). The name was Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário. I liked it. In that same square there was a monument devoted to Zumbi dos Palmares, an african slave that escaped and was the last of the kings of the Quilombo dos Palmares, a fugitive settlement in today Alagoas state. In a plaque there was a poem devoted to him, and signed by the Comunidade Negra de Uberlandia (black community of Uberlandia). The three most sinister stores for slaves in Europe, were in Liverpool, Le Havre and Lisbon. Finally I went to have a proper breakfast in the central market (Mercado Municipal), which was also close to the church, and ordered coffee plus several coxinhas, that were delicious. Uberlandia is not a big town, it does not reach the 700.000 inhabitants, and by walking you can visit the most interesting places. In the central square, in front of the cathedral, I noticed a big bust dedicated to the ex-Brazilian president Juscelino Kubitschek, who was born in Diamantina, Minas Gerais state. He is very much admired by the Brazilians.In the evening I walked back to the bus terminal and caught a bus to Belo Horizonte, my base to visit in the three following days three UNESCO sites (Diamantina, Congonhas and Ouro Preto)......................................................................................................................
CONGONHAS: I reached Congonhas late in the evening, coming from Belo Horizonte. I walked from the bus station until downtown and found a hotel at abordable prices and rented a room. After that had some dinner and slept.
Early in the morning I walked up a hill until the goal of my journey to Congonhas, the stunning Sanctuary.
There were restaurations in the main church, but anyway I could visit its interior and places around, which showed italian influence and a rococo style.
I also enjoyed climbing the hill. At both sides of the hilly street I saw chapels, six in total, and inside I could distinguish the scenes representing the Via Crucis of Jesus.
I imagine that during Easter they show these statues to the public and make parades and ceremonies for the many pilgrims that travel to that Sanctuary.
The most impacting for me was the sculptures of the twelve Prophets, They were amazing, very realistic and each statue, apart from a Prophet, had a parallelism with a Brazilian personage. For instance, one of the Prophets (Jonah) had the face of Tiradentes, a hero and member of the Brazilian revolutionary movement, who was born in Minas Gerais and was hanged in Rio de Janeiro by the Portuguese authorities, and his body was quartered. It was the beginning of a movement to liberate Brazil from Portugal.
Not far from the Sanctuary there was the Romaria, a very interesting architecture complex looking like an arena for bullfighting. It was inside that building that I found the tourist office, where they supplied me brochures and maps.
Back in downtown Congonhas I had to hitchhike until Ouro Preto, that I would visit the next day..............................................................................................................................................
OURO PRETO: I would spend a full day in this pretty town, and even would have time to visit Mariana, at just half an hour distance by bus.
Yes, there were many tourist, but I did not complain, since I was also a tourist, and I do not mind to mix with many tourists.
The town and churches were stunning, the restaurants were wonderful offering local dishes, and the atmosphere super. I had a very pleasant day visiting that town.
I had many expectations before arriving to Ouro Preto and was not disappointed.
There was a time when Ouro Preto was the most populous city in the whole of America, in the middle of the XVIII century, during the gold rush, when it was discovered gold.
I had time to visit practically everything. One of the most visited churches was the one built by Aleijadinho, and was called Igreja de São Francisco de Assis. He was the son of a portuguese and an african slave mother. Aleijadinho is considered the best baroque sculptor in the whole of America.
All the 12 prophets in the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus of Matosinhos, in Congonhas, and many churches in Ouro Preto, where he was born, are his main works of art.
To visit some churches you had to pay, but most of them were free of charge, the same with some palaces that were free of charge.
When I arrived to the main square named Tiradentes, where I saw a statue devoted to this brazilian hero Tiradentes. Around that place there were the best restaurants and places to buy ice creams.
The town is very hilly, you always have to climb streets, what confers it charm. |