Shall we learn more about Brazil, friends? Our Dica today brings you the history of the state of Minas Gerais, one of the four states that make up the southeast region of Brazil. Belo Horizonte is the capital of Minas Gerais, and is one of our biggest metropolises. We will talk not about only this city but also about other important places in the state, such as Inhotim and Ouro Preto. And we’ll finish by learning about the food from Minas Gerais!
To begin, Minas Gerais is the second most populated state in Brazil with 20,73 million mineiros (inhabitants of Minas), with only the state of São Paulo having more people. It is the fourth biggest state in the country in terms of territory and it is the largest milk and coffee producer in Brazil.
Where is it?
The Origin of this State
When the Portuguese discovered that the region, Minas Gerais was full of gold and precious gems. In 1711, the crown decided to create an exploration site there and named it Vila das Minas Gerais. Vila das Minas Gerais became one of the biggest economic centers in Brazil. Not only was there mining activity but the area also developed agricultural areas to produce milk, coffee, sugar, and many other vital products.
This exploration and development generated insurgency across the region and in 1789, led by Tiradentes, the people started a movement against the Portuguese crown called Inconfidência Mineira. As a result of that movement Minas became a state open to business and could receive investments and still nowadays it is one of the richest states in Brazil.
Curiosity: most of the Brazilian Presidents we have had come from the State of Minas Gerais.
Tourism and Famous Cities
Let’s take a look at the most famous Minas Gerais cities, and what tourist monuments they have to offer! You will see this state has many special things!
Mariana, Minas Gerais – Brazil
Mariana was the first city of Minas Gerais State, founded by Portuguese colonizers. The city is famous for its baroque architecture, mountain climbing, and biking.
- Catedral Basílica Nossa Senhora da Assunção: Where there was wealth, Catholics invested in building churches and this one was built in 1704. There are so many churches in Minas, but this is one of those must-see churches (the one in the picture, yeah!). This church houses a priceless treasure! An organ was built in the first decade of the 18th century in Hamburg, Germany by Arp Schnitger (1648-1719), one of the greatest organ builders of all time.
Conceição do Ibitipoca, Minas Gerais – Brazil
This charming little place is very close to the border between Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, which will introduce you to a great mix of the two distinct accents! Conceição de Ibitipoca dates from the 17th century, when gold was discovered in the region and they ended up forming a town.
- Ibitipoca State Park: this one is also another place to go if you like nature. The landscapes are amazing and there are many waterfalls and hiking spots there. The State Park is in the city Conceição do Ibitipoca.
Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais – Brazil
Another important city in Minas Gerais is Ouro Preto. Ouro Preto is very important from the historical point of view, for sure. That is why UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1980, due to the collection of historical buildings. The colonial architecture in the city is ancient and well preserved. Wanna know one of the best places to see in Ouro Preto?
- Museu da Inconfidência: This museum is part of an attempt to rescue Brazilian history, starting in the 1930s. The Museu da Inconfidência is a historical museum about one of the most famous colonial rebellions in Brazil.
Tiradentes, Minas Gerais – Brazil
The paulistas discovered gold on the slopes of the Serra de São José. Not much later, in 1702, they founded Tiradentes. Therefore, it became a city filled with history and importance.
- Historical Center: The city is small, so we suggest you ditch the car and walk around the historic city on foot. It is one of those places where the city itself can be considered a great tourist spot.
Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais – Brazil
Finally, we arrived in the capital city of the state of Minas Gerais. Belo Horizonte is the sixth most populated city in the country and a very important city to Brazil. Although there are divergences, many sources claim that BH (as we call Belo Horizonte) was the first projected city in the country. Curious to know the best tourist attractions?
- Igreja São Francisco de Assis: This church was designed by Oscar Niemeyer, our idol of modern Brazilian architecture. It is affectionately called Igrejinha da Pampulha and is in contrast to the usual historical baroque churches in Minas Gerais.
- Mineirão: The Estadio Governador Magalhães Pinto, better known as Mineirão, is a football stadium located in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. Mineirão is where Cruzeiro Esporte Clube plays. The stadium is part of the Pampulha Architectural Ensemble, designed by Oscar Niemeyer.
- Praça da Liberdade: This square has a landscape and architecture that is a synthesis of the styles that celebrate the history of Belo Horizonte, and is in the neighborhood called Savassi. There is an important Cultural Circuit, formed by several museums and cultural spaces.
- Mercado Central: The central market is located in the center of Belo Horizonte. And is has more than 400 stores and it receives every day people from all parts of Minas Gerais and the world. Great place to eat and buy some food to take back with you!
- Inhotim Museum: It is considered to be the biggest outdoor art gallery of the world and is located in Brumadinho, a municipality that belongs to Belo Horizonte. The Inhotim Institute is responsible for the Inhotim Museum, and is an organization responsible for the most important collections of contemporary art in Brazil.
Minas Gerais Food
As well as many of the Presidents, Minas Gerais is also responsible for contributing to Brazil great food, such as: queijo minas, catupiry, the wonderful pão de queijo and the delicious cachaça. Have you ever tried any of these? For those who tried pão de queijo and want to know how to make it, subscribe to our YouTube channel. We’ll teach you in Portuguese 😉
Let’s finish here, friends! Now you know about some of the important places in Brazil, such as Inhotim, Belo Horizonte and Ouro Preto! And you have learned about the amazing Minas Gerais food! If you’re coming to Brazil, do visit this amazing state. You’ll love it!
A big hug from Rio & Learn!