Ouro Preto

10th October 2010

Northwest of Rio, one of Brazil´s most beautifully preserved towns, Ouro Preto (Black Gold) [11] occupies several hills with its churches towering over their surroundings.  Gold was discovered here in 1690 and a village arose in 1711, rapidly growing to become the capital City of the Province of Minas Gerais with a black slave population of 100,000.  After independence from Portugal, a new Capital was built 100 kilometers away at Belo Horizonte.  Ouro Preto continued untouched by the 20th century and today remains an 18th century Portuguese town.  A surprise awaited us around every bend in the steep winding cobbled streets. 


We suspected something might be going on when we found the line for the bus from Belo Horizonte [12] was over 100 meters long.  Luckily, being over 60, we had priority!  It turned out a 4 day party leads up to October 12, drawing great crowds (think students and beer) to celebrate the Mining School of the Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto opening its doors on 12 October 1876.  We got the last bed in town at the friendly and quiet Pousada Ouro Preto.   The smell of grilling meat led us to a small outdoor diner opposite the Church of San Francisco for a couple of alfresco beers and kebabs.


Winding street leading up to the slave church

Church built by and for the slaves

Ouro Preto street


The old Governor´s Palace

Twisting Ouro Preto street

One of the many fountains

The Bridge of Sighs (1755)