Explore a different destination UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Town of Ouro Prêto, Brazil






Vila Rica do Ouro Prêto, which means Black Gold, is a town that was the centre of Brazil's 17th century gold rush. The name translates as "Rich Village of Black Gold", though today it is simply called Ouro Prêto. It is located in the state of Minas Gerais, in the Serra do Espinhaço mountains. After the gold had been mined, the town went into decline, but its beautiful churches, bridges and fountains, built during its "golden age", remains today as a legacy of the gilded past. They are also an immortalized creative testimony of the talent of the Baroque sculptor Aleijadinho.

Ouro Prêto was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 4th session of the World Heritage Committee when it met in Paris on 1-5 September, 1980.

Photos of Historic Town of Ouro Prêto

Carmo Church, Ouro Prêto
Carmo Church, Ouro Prêto
Author: Sarah and Iain (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Igreja de São Francisco de Assis, Ouro Prêto
Igreja de São Francisco de Assis, Ouro Prêto
Author: Sarah and Iain (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Rosario Pretos, Ouro Prêto
Rosario Pretos, Ouro Prêto
Author: Espartaco Madureira Coelho (public domain)

About Ouro Prêto

The town of Ouro Prêto was founded towards the end of the 17th century. As it became the centre for gold mining, it was a prosperous town, and this is reflected in its architecture. Many of the historic buildings survive till today, thanks to an economic decline that helped to preserve the old buildings from "urban renewals". The architecture in Ouro Prêto is described as Barroco Mineiro, a baroque revivial style that is reflected in the work of sculptors such as Aleijadinho, who created many of the sculptures in town.

Ouro Prêto was where the unsuccessful fight for independence from Portugal was hatched. Its leader, Tierdentes, was hanged to prevent future attempts. The town was the capital of the state of Minas Gerais from 1822 until 1897, when the need for administrative space required a new capital city. Belo Horizonte, a new planned city, took over as capital of Minas Gerais in 1897.

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: S 20 23 20 W 43 30 20 in the State of Minas Gerais
Inscription Year: 1980
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: I, III

Location Map


View Ouro Prêto in a larger map

Visiting Historic Town of Ouro Prêto

Your base for visiting this World Heritage Site is the city of Belo Horizonte. You may have to enter Brazil via Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, and transit to Belo Horizonte. From there, you can make the arrangement, either on your own or through a travel agency, to go to Ouro Prêto. As part of the preparations, here are hotels in the different cities with online booking facilities.

How to get there

From Belo Horizonte, you can take a bus to Ouro Preto. There are many departures per day.

Getting around

Walk. The old town is small enough to be explored on foot.

Book Hotel Rooms in Brazil and Worldwide

Click here also for a full list of hotels in Brazil or hotels worldwide. If you prefer budget accommodation in hostels, guesthouses or inns, check out hostels worldwide for budget accommodation providers with online booking.


Local Tours of Brazil

Brazil is an exciting location, and often the only way to enjoy it fully is to join a local tour. Here are some local tours of Brazil that you may want to include to your itinerary. They save you time and cost of doing it yourself. These tours are arranged by Viator, one of the most reputable tour agencies in the market.

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