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South America » Brazil
March 12th 2013
Published: June 21st 2017
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Geo: -20.296, -43.4832

From Salvador we took a 90 minute flight on GOL airline to Belo Horizonte - the third largest city in Brazil (unkown to us and probably to you) and next day, having booked a rental car to use to go on to Rio, Paraty and Sao Paulo airport but not to be picked up until 3 pm , we had time for a taxi tour round some of the famous buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer who went on to design many of the great buildings in Brasilia and iconic structures such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rio which looks like a flying saucer - Google it! We saw the church of St Francisco de Assisi (which the church authorities hated so much they refused to consecrate it for quite some time), the Tennis Club and the Museum of Modern Art. Then back to collect our bags, then to collect our car then the short ride to Ouro Preto (which means Black Gold) and which is one of Brazil's most historic places and was made a UNESCO World HeritageSite in 1980. We stayed in the Hotel Grande (designed by Niemeyer and built around 1939) and enjoyed the space and some of the clever and/or quirky design features.. The town has a rich collection of churches many of them showing the work of Antonio Francisco Lisboa of the late 18th century who was more commonly known as Aleijadinho - which means little cripple. He contracted leprosy in his 40s but continued to work at architecture and sculpture being carried to work by his assistants and having his hammers and chisels strapped to the remains of his limbs. We also enjoyed visiting the Casa do Contos (counting house) which acted as a mint where gold was turned into coins!
On an excursion out of Ouro Preto we visited a gold mine (not still operating and no free samples), the little town of Mariana founded in 1696 and one of the oldest colonial towns in Brazil and Congonhas to see Alejadhino's finest work in Bom Jesus de Matosinhos church - stations of the cross as full sculptures, statues of the 12 pophets etc. Another World Heritage site.
These visits took us rather further afield than we planned and it all ended with us facing a 100 kilometre return journey with a long delay as we passed the most appalling triple lorry pile-up imaginable following which the heavens opened in a way they probably only can in the Brazilian forest resulting in what felt like a drive through a waterfall!


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The church at CongonhasThe church at Congonhas
The church at Congonhas

Note the storm clouds gathering!
Entrance to the gold mine Entrance to the gold mine
Entrance to the gold mine

Note lack of safety equipment!


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