Reasons to Visit
Discovering that the indigenous peoples did not take well to forced labour, the colonial Portuguese shipped thousands of Africans to Brazil to work. Upon their emancipation at the end of the 19th Century, Afro Brazilians became integrated into society, resulting in the beautifully diverse people we see today.
From the beautiful towns of Ouro Preto and Tiradentes in Minas Gerais state, Natal and Salvador in the northeast to the cobbled backstreets of Santa Teresa in Rio, there are numerous fine examples of colonial architecture in Brazil. For a different type of architecture the retro designs of Brasilia dating back from the 1950's divides opinion!
With almost 3,000 km of coastline, it isn’t surprising that Brazil has some of the best beaches in Latin America. There’s a beach for every taste, miles of deserted sand and palm trees, havens for surfers, beaches to spot whales and beaches to watch the locals parade themselves in the latest swimwear trends.
One of the world’s most famous celebrations, Brazil’s annual carnival takes place across the country preparing for the start of Lent. Most well-known for the celebrations in Rio, thousands of sequin and feather-clad dancers samba their way through the parade ground.
Football is in the veins of Brazil and seen at every turn. Brazil has given us such footballing greats as Pelé, Ronaldo and Kaka and the love and passion shown by the children passing balls in the street leave little doubt that more stars will follow.
The Amazon rainforest is a haven for wildlife and a must for both nature lovers and those who are simply curious. It covers a vast area of Brazil and can be explored from a number of simple lodges or boats, most of which are easily accessible from the tropical city of Manaus.
For wildlife viewing, there are few better places in the world than the Pantanal between April and September. The animals and birds found here are similar to those found in the nearby Amazon, but they are much easier to spot in the Pantanal. Animals seen here include capybara, caiman, anteater, armadillo, otter, marmoset and even jaguar and puma.
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The beautiful towns of Minas Gerais are testimony to the wealth generated by Brazil’s 17th and 18th century gold rush. You will not find finer preserved examples of Baroque art and colonial architecture anywhere else in Brazil, or possibly throughout the entire Americas.
The beautiful towns of Minas Gerais are testimony to the wealth generated by Brazil’s 17th and 18th century gold rush.
Prospectors made their fortunes from the diamonds and gold found in the area, and poured the money into the pockets of artisans who lavishly decorated the churches.
You will not find finer preserved examples of Baroque art and colonial architecture anywhere else in Brazil, or possibly throughout the entire Americas.
Ouro Preto is the most picturesque and well preserved town and is a UNESCO World Cultural Monument best explored on foot. The steep streets and whitewashed colonial houses cling to the hillside and at virtually every turn you will come across a Baroque church with an excessively elaborate interior, covered with saints and rosy-cheeked angels and anointed with gold.
Another place steeped in history is the sleepy town of Tiradentes, whose cobbled streets and colonial buildings (many of which are occupied by local artists) wind gently down the hill from the Santo Antônio church towards the charming main square.
To visit these, and other colonial towns of the area, the journey is by road either from Rio or from the city of Belo Horizonte, and requires at least two days.
If you have a little more time or a particular interest in the history of this area then it is worth heading in the opposite direction by a scenic road to the delightful town of Diamantina, which is still a diamond-mining town today.
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