Historic Town of Ouro Preto

UNESCO World Heritage

A treasure of human genius

Outstanding Universal Value


Founded in the early 18th century 513km north of Rio de Janeiro, the Historic Town of Ouro Preto (Black Gold) covers the steep slopes of the Vila Rica (Rich Valley), centre of a rich gold mining area and the capital of Minas Gerais Province from 1720-1897.

Ouro Preto - Black Gold by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

Along the original winding road and within the irregular layout following the contours of the landscape lie squares, public buildings, residences, fountains, bridges and churches which together form an outstanding homogenous group exhibiting the fine curvilinear form of Baroque architecture.

Historic Town of Ouro Preto by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

The Historic City of Ouro Preto was the symbolic center of the Inconfidência Mineira in 1789, a Brazilian independence movement, and home to exceptional artists responsible for many of the most significant works of the Brazilian Baroque period, including the Church of São Francisco of Assisi by the distinguished architect and sculptor Antônio Francisco Lisboa (Aleijadinho).

Historic Town of Ouro Preto by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

Tap to explore

The area’s isolation for the better part of the 19th and 20th centuries generated economic stagnation, fostering preservation of the original colonial constructions and urban pattern.

A masterpiece of human creative genius


Set in a remote and rugged landscape, the aesthetic quality of the vernacular and erudite architecture and irregular urban pattern of Ouro Preto makes the town a treasure of human genius.

Matriz Nossa Senhora da Conceição by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

The most notable of the city’s architectural works are represented by the religious monuments and administrative buildings, including the Palácio dos Governadores (Governors’ Palace), today the School of Mines, and the former Casa de Câmara e Cadeia (Administrative and Prison House), home to the Inconfidência Museum.

Church of Sao Francisco de Assis by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

Tap to explore

Palácio dos Governadores (Governors’ Palace)

The Baroque churches carry sculptures by Antônio Francisco Lisboa, Aleijadinho, colonial Brazil’s greatest artist, and the ceiling paintings of Manuel da Costa Athaide among others.

Church of Sao Francisco de Assis by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

Basilica Nossa Senhora do Pilar by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

These were the representatives of the initial expressions of an artistic form deemed genuinely national and developed in a region marked by difficult access and a scarcity of materials and labor in the 18th century.

Church of Sao Francisco de Assis by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

Historic Town of Ouro Preto by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

An exceptional built heritage


The built heritage of the Historic City of Ouro Preto bears exceptional testimony to the creative talents of a society built on pioneering mining wealth under Portuguese colonial rule.

Historic Town of Ouro Preto by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

Although the architecture, paintings, and sculptures are based on underlying models introduced by Portuguese immigrants, the works vary significantly from the contemporary European art, not only with respect to their spatial conception, but in their decorative treatment, in particular the stone sculptures carved on the facades, distinctive for their originality and design and in the combined use of two materials, gneiss and soapstone.

Colonial architecture by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

The absence of formal convents or monasteries, due to the edict of the Portuguese Crown which prohibited the establishment of religious orders in Minas Gerais, led to the construction of churches and chapels displaying the full splendor, quality, and originality of the syncretized artistic traditions of two cultures.

Oratory Museum by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

Tap to explore

Nossa Senhora do Carmo

Oratory Museum by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

Sculptor Antônio Francisco Lisboa by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

Antônio Francisco Lisboa by Historic Town of Ouro PretoUNESCO World Heritage

Credits: Story

This exhibit was created by Embratur
www.embratur.gov.br

More on Ouro Preto and World Heritage:
whc.unesco.org/en/list/124

Photos: Embratur

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Home
Explore
Nearby
Profile