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Beautiful Bela Horizonte

The capital of Minas Gerais

By Rasma RaistersPublished 7 months ago 4 min read

Minas Gerais means “General Mines”. This is a state in southeastern Brazil rich in natural and cultural heritage. Bela Horizonte is the capital of the state of Minas Gerais in South America. Bela Horizonte was carved out of the forest surrounding a settlement for gold-diggers known as Curral del Rei, founded in 1701. It was a new city modeled after Washington D.C. the capital of the U.S. The city has a wonderful background of mountains. Its skyline is a mix of old and new. In the 1940s Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer designed several of his first buildings here and gave Bela Horizonte some of his best-known works and top tourist attractions.

Freedom Square in the city center is a large park-like plaza that was designed to be the hub of state administration and power. Here you can see the Palacio de Governo or Government Building.

The Art Deco style Palacio Cristo Rio, built in the 1940s is an impressive building, and towering above the square is Edificio Niemeyer, a curved apartment building that is one of Niemeyer’s most famous early architectural works.

Sao Francisco de Assis is the first of architect Niemeyer’s major works, standing by a lake in the park-like suburb of Pampulha. The church has interesting parabolic curves on the roof. The exterior is covered in azulejo tile panels by Candido Portinari. You can see more of his work in the interior. The surrounding gardens were designed by landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. Walking about the lake you can see how lovely the church looks silhouetted in the water.

There is also the curved Casa do Baile, where fashionable parties and dances were held in the 1940s.

Palacio das Artes sits on the southwestern edge of the municipal park. It is an impressive low white building designed by Niemeyer to house the Fundacao Clovis Salgado, one of Latin America’s most inclusive and active centers for the arts. There are studios and practice rooms for artists and musicians. Three galleries host a variety of art shows and its three theaters host concerts of classical and popular music, dance performances, theater, and operas.

The Minerology Museum has found its home in a post-modern building known by the local nickname of “Rainha da Sucata” or Queen of Scrap Iron. The museum has an impressive collection of nearly 3,000 minerals from the mines of Minas Gerais and from places around the world. About 800 of them are on display including gold and other precious metals, diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, aquamarines, topazes, and amethysts.

The Central Market is one of the most vibrant and lively places in the city. Inside the huge market building, you can find everything from food to canaries in some 400-odd stalls. You’ll see vendors selling fruits and vegetables, cheese, sausages, religious items, herbal medicines, candy, drinks, meats, flowers, nuts, household utensils, prepared foods, pets, and handicrafts. Stop to watch as the fruit sellers peel and slice whole pineapples with a machete, and wait your turn for a seat in one of the tiny lunch stands to sample local dishes. The market is open daily, although only until 1 pm on Sundays and holidays.

The Arts and Crafts Museum has found its home in the spacious Praca da Estacao. It is a venue for outdoor concerts and festivals. At the museum, you can see all kinds of craft tools. It is bounded on one side by the former rail station which has become an important landmark through which came all the material used to build this city.

Parque Mangabeiras is a large park at the edge of the city. It stretches across the steep slope of the Serra do Curral. where the source streams of the Rio das Velhas come together. In the park is a primeval forest, a lake, several springs, walking and jogging paths, playing fields, children’s rides, an open-air theater, and an amphitheater.

Also offering great views is Praca do Papa which was named for Pope John Paul II.

Parque Municipal/City Park is a large green space found on the north side of the city center. There are many century-old shade trees here, a lake for boating, several gardens, playgrounds for children, tennis courts, aviaries, and a theater.

An Orchidarium has greenhouses full of rare orchid varieties.

From May through September, the Orchestra of Minas Gerais performs a concert in the park every Sunday morning. This is a great park for strolling or picnicking.

The extensive Botanic Garden is located in the Santa Inas district where you’ll also find the Natural History Museum. The garden stretches for over 6,000 square meters, with indigenous trees and plants.

In the museum, you can see botanical exhibits as well as minerals and archaeology. There are interactive stations. You’ll also find the Presepio do Pipiripau a nativity scene designed by Raimundo Machado de Azavedo. It shows 45 scenes from the life of Jesus with over 580 figures. In the gardens is the former country house of the governor of Minas Gerais.

Minas Gerais is Brazil’s gold and diamond mining area. It was really active in the 17th and 18th centuries. The former capital of Ouro Preto was in the richest part of the region. Gold was so plentiful that church walls were coated in it. You can see the wealth by viewing the 17th-century Baroque and Rococo churches Sao Francisco de Assis and Matriz de Nossa Senhora do Pilar. The city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Today Ouro Preto is one of Brazil’s most charming towns with steep streets that are lined with lovely mansions and hills topped by Baroque churches with sacred art.

south america

About the Creator

Rasma Raisters

My passions are writing and creating poetry. I write for several sites online and have four themed blogs on Wordpress. Please follow me on Twitter.

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