Mariana and Ouro Preto
Ouro Preto Travel Blog› entry 141 of 177 › view all entries
Caught the bus this morning to visit the Minas do Passagem, now a tourist venue showing the insides of an old gold mine that operated from 1719 to 1985! We took a little cable car 350m into the mine until we were about 120m underground and then had a guided tour of a few of the tunnels. The guide spoke English, but not an awful lot of information was given, apart that about 35 tonnes of gold were taken out of here during the mine´s life. There is a small shrine to Santa Barbara, the patron saint of people with dangerous occupations, and we saw a small part of the big underground lake - the water is incredibly clear and you can cave-dive here if you´re so inclined. From here we took another bus to Mariana, another colonial gold town with scenic cobbled streets and churches on almost every corner.
Headed back to Ouro Preto for lunch, and then went down to the Matriz de NS do Pilar, with its extremely ornate interior - it is apparently the 2nd most opulent church in Brazil, after Salvador). There is a lot of gold, silver and scroll work, plus incredible bird chandelier holders that stick out from the walls and hold the chandelier chains in their beaks. The crypt houses a display of over 430kg of gold and silver religious pieces, and the hair on the image of Jesus in the church is real.
Last day in OUro Preto before catching the night bus to Sao Paulo. Very interesting visit to the Museo Oratorio, a large collection of hand-made oratories (little shrines of devotion) dating from as far back as the 17th century. They ranged in size from tiny little necklaces to massive chest oratories that acted as mini-chapels in remote areas.
After lunch and a drink we visited the Museo Guignard, a small museum devoted to the works of the famous Brazilian artist Guignard. Luckily there were some books around explaining his life and works, and the very helpful guide managed to get across most of what we needed to know by using very simple Portuguese! We spent the rest of the day in the internet cafe, sipping coffees on the plaza and having an early dinner before catching the 6.30pm bus to our next stop.