The Portuguese found gold in the hills of Ouro Preto and built a city full of splendid colonial architecture.
The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Cultural site
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 124:
“Founded at the end of the 17th century, Ouro Preto (Black Gold) was the focal point of the gold rush and Brazil’s golden age in the 18th century. With the exhaustion of the gold mines in the 19th century, the city’s influence declined but many churches, bridges and fountains remain as a testimony to its past prosperity and the exceptional talent of the Baroque sculptor Aleijadinho.”
I visited the town all the way back in 1987 as part of a South American journey. My diary notes have not yet been transferred to a blogging format, but here is what I wrote in a letter to my family:
“Back in Rio again we had dinner in a nice little fish restaurant with good home-made wine before taking a night bus to a place north and inland called Ouro Preto. “Ouro” means gold, of which this area and the province are rich. There are mines everywhere and vendors too. Many fine stones, but we didn’t buy any.
Ouro Preto is in the mountains and is very “hilly”. The urbanity is exciting with beautiful old churches and small white chalked houses with timber frames in all kinds of colours. The camera was in action. We checked into a home cosy little hotel, run by an “old” American hippie and with other backpackers as residents. ”