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The most compelling attraction of Minas Gerais are the southeastern state’s handful of picturesque colonial towns known collectively as Minas’ “cidades históricas” (historical cities). Together, they constitute one of the most stunning examples of baroque architecture in the Americas. The cidades históricas all date back to the gold and diamond rushes of the early 1800s that brought thousands of fortune seekers to the treasure-packed hills and mountains of central Minas. By 1800 the mines had dried up, but the grandiose palaces, sumptuous gold-doused churches, and steep cobblestoned streets built during the towns’ heydays have remained ...

The most compelling attraction of Minas Gerais are the southeastern state’s handful of picturesque colonial towns known collectively as Minas’ “cidades históricas” (historical cities). Together, they constitute one of the most stunning examples of baroque architecture in the Americas. The cidades históricas all date back to the gold and diamond rushes of the early 1800s that brought thousands of fortune seekers to the treasure-packed hills and mountains of central Minas. By 1800 the mines had dried up, but the grandiose palaces, sumptuous gold-doused churches, and steep cobblestoned streets built during the towns’ heydays have remained intact to this day. Although some, such as Congonhas and São João del Rei, have seen modern buildings rise up around their baroque gems, others such as charming Ouro Preto, Mariana, Tiradentes, and far-flung Diamantina have succeeded in preserving not just their architecture, but their centuries-old culture and small-town way of life as well.

Michael Sommers
About the Expert

Michael Sommers is the author of Moon Brazil and Moon Rio, as well as the blog Thrill of Brazil. He has been living in Salvador, Brazil since 1999.

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Michael Sommers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Minas Gerais is one of the 26 states of Brazil, located in the southeast region of the country
  • Language: Portuguese
  • Currency: Brazilian Real
  • Research: Minas Gerais | Mina Gerais
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer (November-March) can be very rainy. Winters (June-September) can be fairly cold with temperatures dropping to 10 degrees at night.