Portugal breaths in Ouro Preto, with each street, each corner, each building, showing the Portuguese colonial architecture, preserved in time, and displayed with care. The churches, hundreds of them, rivaling in beauty and richness, are the result of strong competition to perfection, driving the Portuguese baroque to its best.
It was impossible to visit 10% of the marvelous masterpieces, but I think we choose the best. That's my advice. Prepare well your visit, to profit your time.
The whole town is a sculpture, composed by hundreds of churches and colonial buildings. It's a delight for our eyes, getting the top of one hill, and... to see the other.
Though very steep, the town is small, and easy to see in one or two days, if you skip the details. Otherwise.. only the baroque churches are more then 300!
São Francisco church
One of the "must see" churches of Ouro Preto is S. Francisco, which shows the transition from Baroque to Rococo styles.
There, as in most of the best monuments of the epoch, you'll see the hands of Aleijadinho, but we better learn with who knows - translating from ouropreto.com.br:
Construction started in 1766, by the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi - the first third order created in Ouro Preto, dating back to 1745. Masterpiece by Antônio Francisco Lisboa, who signs the project and the risk of the cover. In the ceiling of the central nave paintings of the master Manuel da Costa Ataíde, representing the glorification of Our Lady. Highlight for the crowning of the main door, sculpture in soapstone and, in the sacristy, the toilet, both carved by Aleijadinho.
They date from 1826 the tiles of the corridors, and the lateral altars were made between 1829 and 1890. (Guia Cultural Trem da Vale, 2nd Edition) it In 2009 was chosen one of the 7 Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World, in a contest carried out with the purpose of divulging the legacy of the Portuguese Expansion in the World.
There are some mines opened to public, allowing to recreate the hard conditions supported by the old miners.
We visited two of them: the mine of Chico Rei, right in Ouro Preto, and a bigger one in Passagem, close to Mariana, where we descent to the mine using an old trolley (so old that Fernanda decided to stay out of it - claustrophobia, she said...).
In our way up we had a demonstration about how to search gold in the mixture of rocks and water.