Ouro Preto is a small, quaint town, seven hours north of Rio and two hours south of Belo Horizonte, which is now a Unesco World Heritage site. A former mining town (it’s name means black gold), it is one of the prettiest and best preserved colonial towns in Brazil and so, despite it’s small size and sleepy atmosphere, is a popular tourist destination.
As well as being extremely picturesque, it is also incredibly hilly. Luckily, our hostel was a mere 150 metres from the bus station. Unluckily, we took a wrong turning and before long we found ourselves on the wrong side of town, at the bottom of the hill, trying to decipher Portuguese directions to find the fastest and least steep route back to where we needed be. After an epic hike that was akin to climbing Everest, across cobbles so slippery (did I mention it was also raining) that I nearly fell flat on my face more than once, we finally arrived at the hostel.
There’s not a great deal to ‘do’ as such in Ouro Preto. The closest thing you’ll get to a tourist attraction is the old mine which is a little way out of town. People come here more for the rolling hills, the magnificent old churches (there seems to be dozens of them dotted around town) and the many artisan and gem shops. For us, it was a chance to kick back for a few days after the hustle and bustle of Rio.
Luckily, the weather soon cleared up and we spent our afternoons meandering through the cobbled lanes, enjoying cold beers in local bars and soaking up the history. We visited the small museum and one of the churches – although I must confess I found the latter rather amusing thanks to the rather tacky and kitsch mannequins of Jesus adorning the walls, complete with wigs and lipstick. Honestly, some of the poses they were in, more Eminem than Emmanuel.
There’s not a huge amount more to say about Ouro Preto so instead I’ll leave you with a few photos…