Ouro Preto can keep travelers who come into town entertained for many days. There are dozens of sights to visit, beautiful cities nearby for round trips, and many lookouts that deserve photographic stops. Time will be left for so many attractions. If you are organizing a short weekend trip, it is best to focus on the essentials of Ouro Preto so as not to get lost among so many churches, museums, mines and charming villages. If you have more time, enjoy getting to know the art and architecture of Ouro Preto inside, not just the facades. The landscape of Ouro Preto is stunning, but it is inside the churches and mansions that are some of the greatest local treasures.
Browse the churches of Ouro Preto
No other city in Minas Gerais has such a large offer of beautiful churches open for visitation. And they are not only important for religious reasons. Many churches in Ouro Preto are true works of art and magnificent examples of colonial architecture. Walking through them is a gift to the eye. Great names of the baroque art of Minas Gerais worked on projects of the buildings, sculptures and paintings of the eighteenth century churches. Among the most important artists is Antonio Francisco Lisboa, Aleijadinho. Apart from him, there are also Manuel da Costa Ataíde (known as Mestre Ataíde), Manuel Francisco Lisboa (father of Aleijadinho) and Francisco Xavier de Brito.
Entering the churches of Ouro Preto is like visiting museums. Each reserves a special work. The task, however, may not be easy. Often churches do not have regular opening hours, are closed for restoration, or charge visiting tickets. In fact, almost all Ouro Preto churches require payment to be visited from within. The average value is $ 5 per person and photographic registration is almost never allowed. So get ready to bring back memories of beautiful altars and ceiling paintings just in remembrance.
Ouro Preto offers at least twenty visitation churches and chapels. As the number is very high and almost always the time is very short, it is necessary to prioritize the visit. So, start the tour of the Ouro Preto churches by visiting the most significant in historical and artistic terms. The city’s must-see churches include the Mother Church of Our Lady of Pilar, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Mother Church of Our Lady of Conception by Antonio Dias, the Church of Our Lady of Carmel, the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary dos Pretos and the Church of Santa Efigenia. Although these churches are among the most beautiful, they are not the only ones. As you walk through Ouro Preto and come across other churches, be sure to come inside to discover their interior.
Visit the museums and learn more about Ouro Preto
Ouro Preto offers visitors some spaces dedicated to the art and history of the region. They are museums that help to understand how Vila Rica became the current Ouro Preto and also the great influence that mining activity, religion and slavery had on the people and development of the region.
To get a general idea of Ouro Preto, be sure to visit the Inconfidência Museum, where documents, furniture, artwork and period pieces tell more about the process that culminated in Brazil’s independence. With a focus on the mining vocation of Ouro Preto, the UFOPS School of Science and Technique Museum explains how the city’s main activity was developed. If you are interested in sacred works, visit the Oratory Museum, the Ouro Preto Sacred Art Museum and the Aleijadinho Museum. To be enchanted by the colonial architecture, it is worth visiting the House of Tomás Antonio Gonzaga, the House of Tales, the House of the Inconfidents and the Opera House, four buildings where cultural centers operate, but whose main attraction is the buildings themselves.
Enter the old gold mines of Vila Rica
Ouro Preto has as its great mark the intense mining activity in the colonial period, when the city was still the famous Vila Rica. Little remains of that time when gold was the great local product. The wealth has gone to Europe, but it is still possible to visit some of the mines from which tons of ores and gems were taken. During the visit, tourists enter the mines and hear details about what exploration was like at the sites and about slave labor in the mines. The tours are accompanied by guides. The mines are located in privately owned gardens and the average cost of the tour is R$ 25.
Some of the most popular mines to visit are located in the Historic Center of Ouro Preto, especially in the region of Rua Chico Rei. From there, you will be able to visit the Chico Rei Mine, Jejê Mine, Veloso Mine and Santa Rita Mine. . The visits are very similar and usually take a guided tour inside the mining tunnels.
One mine stands out from the rest for offering a different tour. Passage Mine, located on the road that connects Ouro Preto to Mariana, is the only industrial mine open to visitors in the region. Tourists descend to the tunnels in a cart that goes along the old tracks where the riches of Vila Rica were taken. The ride is more interesting, but the cost is also much higher. The ticket per person is R$ 60.
Travel around Ouro Preto in search of history
Ouro Preto is not the only beauty of this region of Minas Gerais. In very short walks, you can visit other attractions and must-see cities. Be sure to go to Mariana by train! The city is full of history and you can still enjoy a stroll along the region’s old trails. Visit Congonhas and enjoy the Twelve Prophets of Aleijadinho. Brand new in the city, the Congonhas Museum explains, step by step, some of the artist’s masterpieces. Get to know the beautiful Caraça Sanctuary and its waterfalls. Venture into the ecotourism of Lavras Novas. Enter the Santo Antônio Mother Church in the city of Santa Bárbara and see one of the most spectacular works by Mestre Ataíde. Enjoy the bucolic look of Catas Altas and enjoy every minute on the road to relax amidst the wonderful scenery of Serra do Caraça. The important thing is not to close your eyes to the surroundings of Ouro Preto. They reserve as many gems as the city mines in the colonial period.