The town of the early gold explorers played a fundamental role in Brazilian colonial history and used to be the capital of Minas Gerais. Its site was explored for its abundant gold and gemstones, and the town has made its mark by being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is currently a very beautiful and popular historical center that melds the hurly-burly of a college town with beautiful Minas Gerais scenery. Those who visit the town carry away a very real impression of having been transported back to the times of colonial Brazil, to its unique architecture and fascinating stories.
Ouro Preto history has bestowed upon the city hundreds of tourist attractions such as museums, water fountains, parks and the most beautiful churches in Minas. Matriz de N. Senhora do Pilar church, an extremely rich representation of the Baroque style, contains about 400 kg of gold and 400 kg of silver. Annexed to it, in the vestry, we find the Pilar Museum of Sacred Art, which displays silverware, furniture, liturgical vestments and religious images from the 18th century. There are other beautiful 18th century churches spread out throughout the hilly town. Among them we find: Nossa Senhora do Carmo, Nossa Senhora do Rosário and São Francisco de Assis, all of them adorned in gold and built in the rich Baroque style.
Inconfidência Museum, which was built in 1785, is a great portrait of the history of a local uprising and displays pieces of the scaffold where the hero named Tiradentes was hanged, furniture and other historic articles from that age. Aleijadinho Museum, which bears the name of one of the most famous baroque artists, display a vast collection of sacred art that takes visitors back to the time the beautiful churches were built.
Ouro Preto is also home to the oldest theater in Latin America, the Ouro Preto municipal theater, which was rebuilt in 2007 and reopened with its original name, Casa da Ópera.
The water fountains that can be found all over town have become a landmark after the various springs in Ouro Preto turned them into true works of art. Rio das Velhas, one of the most important rivers in Minas Gerais, also originates by the town.
Ouro Preto is famous for its gemstones and elaborate handicraft. Visitors will find it easy to browse through the small shops that sell custom jewelry made from typical local stones, soapstone objects and antiques. Toledo Antiguidades sells art objects, paintings, sculptures, silverware and furniture. On the other hand, Casa das Pedras is the ideal place to discover jewelry handcrafted from colorful local stones. Bazaars and fairs are concentrated in the most attractive areas such as water fountains and churches, and they always offer good options for presents or souvenirs.