Founded in the early eighteenth century, Ouro Preto is a masterpiece of colonial Brazilian architecture and art. In fact, in1980 UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site. Here the intricate details of the buildings and art works clearly reflect the originality and autonomy of the craftsmen and artists who created this monument of Brazilian baroque style.
The painting of Manuel da Costa Athaíde and the sculptures of Antônio Francisco Lisboa, Aleijadinho, are living examples of this period of enormous creative inspiration.
Located 158 miles from the capital Belo Horizonte, a visit to Ouro Preto is a step back into history and past human accomplishments. The town has thirteen large churches and numerous public monuments and buildings. The most spectacular of the churches are Saint Francis, Our Lady of Carmo, Our Lady of the Rosary, Pilar and Antônio Dias.
Other important sites include the Casa dos Contos (Counting House), the Inconfidência Museum (which documents Brazil’s earliest independence movement), the Mineralogical Museum and the world class Museu do Oratório (with its magnificent collection of sacred art, especially oratories).
Cultural, popular and religious events are also an important reason for visiting Ouro Preto:
Semana Santa ( Holly Week) processions held on Thursday before the Palm Sunday and sporadically until Easter Sunday, are really a spectacle.
In late July , the Winter Festival involves two universities and the town floods with students participating in 24-hour classes, exhibitions and parties.
The major Congado ( local expression of Afro-Christian syncretism) celebrations are for Our Lady of Rosario , held in October 23-25, for the New year and May 13,( the anniversary of abolition).