Check out an unmissable itinerary passing through 5 historic cities in Minas Gerais and fall in love with the state

national relic, the historic cities of Minas Gerais the main highlight is its imposing preserved buildings. In fact, the result of a very rich architectural heritage left by the country's colonizers during the Colonial Brazil period.

who travels through historic cities of Minas Gerais, you have the opportunity to learn a little more about the history of our country, as well as visit impressive natural settings and experience the best of Minas Gerais cuisine.

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So, if you're looking to find out about the main historic cities of Minas Gerais, check out this itinerary passing through 5 municipalities in the state.

Historic cities of Minas Gerais: Estrada Real

Built with the aim of connecting the gold producing regions of Minas Gerais to the ports located on the coast of Rio de Janeiro, the Royal Road it was born from the need to offer a safer transport route to travelers, as well as to control the circulation of wealth produced during the gold cycle.

Undoubtedly, the Royal Road is one of the main tourist routes in the country and brings together paths used at the time of Colonial Brazil, in the states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In all, there are 177 municipalities spread over 1,600 km of roads, which take visitors to majestic historic cities, archaeological sites, waterfalls and stretches where the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado dominate the landscape.

THE old path it connects Ouro Preto to Paraty, passing through 38 cities on 630 km of road, between the Minas Gerais plateau, Serra da Mantiqueira and the coast of Rio de Janeiro. This is certainly the most popular route among visitors who want to know the main attractions of Estrada Real, among them the cities of Tiradentes, São João Del Rey, Congonhas, Cunha and Guaratinguetá.

In addition to the Old Path, three other paths complete the Estrada Real circuit, they are: Sabarabuçu Path (connecting the cities of Ouro Preto and Cocais), the Diamond Path (Ouro Preto x Diamantina) and the New Path, which begins in the city of Ouro Preto and continues to the capital of Rio de Janeiro.

Despite offering an integrated and chewed tourist itinerary to the tourist, the Estrada Real can be done autonomously, without necessarily circulating the entire route of the four available paths. That is, you can choose the most attractive attractions for your type of trip, as the distance between cities are usually very short, and make a personalized script.

Main historic cities of Minas Gerais

Between the main historic cities of Minas Gerais they are São João del Rei, straps, Congonhas, Black gold and Mariana. These are some of the most popular destinations on Estrada Real and are approximately 160 km apart.

Access to the historic cities of Minas Gerais It is certainly quick and easy, and can be done from Belo Horizonte and the other three capitals in the Southeast region, for those who wish to arrive by car or bus. The municipalities are all connected by excellent roads. In addition to the transfers offered by tourist agencies, the visitor also has the option of getting around on the travel buses that circulate throughout the region.

It is worth remembering that Estrada Real stands out as one of the most awarded and elaborate tourist itineraries in the country, therefore, all municipalities offer great options for hotels, inns and restaurants.

If your intention is to be more and more surprised during the trip, we recommend starting your itinerary historic cities of Minas Gerais in the municipality of São João Del Rei and finish the trip in style in the majestic city of Ouro Preto.

Historic Cities of Minas Gerais: São João Del Rei

situated in the south of the state of Minas Gerais, near the mountains of Serra da Mantiqueira, the city of São João del Rei was founded in 1704 and played an important role in the state's history during the gold cycle.

Today, the city has a contemporary side, but still harbors traces of its heyday in its Historic Center. Centenary churches, colonial mansions, museums and a railway line opened in 1881 are some of the must-see attractions in São João Del Rei.


Photo: Gustavo Albano

Things to do in Sao Joao del Rei:

Start your tour walking along R. Getúlio Vargas, the road concentrates several points of interest such as the Museum of Sacred Art and Solar dos Neves, a townhouse belonging to the Tancredo Neves family, which was once the former president's home. In addition, other highlights are the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário, the Basilica Cathedral of Nossa Senhora do Pilar and the Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo, located in Largo do Carmo.

After discovering the charming streets of the Historic Center, walk towards Ponte do Rosário and head to the São Francisco de Assis Church, famous for its interior rich in baroque and rococo details, such as the Baccarat crystal chandelier, a gift from D. Pedro II to the church after a visit to São João del Rei.

The nature that surrounds São João Del Rei is another attraction that deserves to be explored. In addition to the waterfalls and viewpoints present in the mountains that surround the city, another alternative to contemplate the scenery is the Maria Fumaça tour that goes to the neighboring city of Tiradentes.


Photo: Gustavo Albano

Other points of interest:

  • Municipal Market of Sao Joao del Rei
  • Rua das Casas Tortas
  • Railway Museum
  • Our Lady of Mercy Church
  • Cala Boca Waterfall Reserve
  • Legality Fountain
  • Municipal Theater

Where to stay:

Historic Cities of Minas Gerais: Tiradentes

With excellent infrastructure for tourists and natural landscapes that fill the eyes, the city of straps is pointed out by many as undoubtedly one of the historic mining towns more charming and preserved.

Listed as a Historic Heritage Site by IPHAN, Tiradentes breathes art and has a funky atmosphere, with great options of bars and restaurants. The city is just 10 km from São João Del Rei and has many works of 18th century architecture, for example.


Tour through the historic cities of Minas Gerais. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Things to do in Tiradentes:

Despite being small, the city of Tiradentes deserves at least two days in its itinerary through the historic cities of Minas Gerais. With narrow streets, a calm climate and surrounded by the Serra de São José, the city works as a stronghold for travelers who want to disconnect amidst the mountainous landscapes and enjoy the best of Minas Gerais cuisine: there are dozens of restaurants and bistros that offer typical dishes from the region. state, artisanal chocolates, cheeses and the famous Minas sweets.

Those who are focused on getting to know the colonial buildings of the destination, cannot fail to check out Rua Direita. After all, it is the main access road to the city, which houses tourist attractions such as the old Public Jail, which today functions as the Museum of Sacred Art and the Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Rosário. Also, be sure to check out the Igreja Matriz de Santo Antônio, located in an imposing viewpoint overlooking the Serra de São José. The building attracts the curious and art lovers, as it surprisingly has an ornate facade with sculptures made by the baroque artist from Minas Gerais, Aleijadinho.

In fact, the Mirante da Igreja de São Francisco is a great place to enjoy the sunset and enjoy a different view of the city.


Tour through the historic cities of Minas Gerais. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Other points of interest:

  • Sant'Ana Museum
  • Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks
  • Stone House Grotto
  • Estrada Real Automobile Museum
  • San Jose Fountain
  • Ponte das Forras
  • Tiradentes Railway Station

Where to stay:

Historic Cities of Minas Gerais: Congonhas

Another destination that undeniably cannot miss in your itinerary through the historic cities of Minas is the municipality of Congonhas. The site is home to one of the four World Heritage Sites declared by Unesco in the state and is located just 80 km from Belo Horizonte and 122 km from São João Del Rei.


Photo: Gustavo Albano

Things to do in Congonhas:

First of all, Congonhas it's a small town and can probably be explored in just one day. The ensemble of the Basilica of Senhor Bom Jesus de Matosinhos is the main point of visit for tourists passing through the region. In other words, it contains the 12 prophets built in soapstone and the six chapels that narrate the Passion of Christ, considered Aleijadinho's greatest masterpiece.

A walk along Ladeira Bom Jesus yields great photos of the city and other interesting stops to learn a little more about the history of the destination: the Congonhas Image and Memory Museum and the friendly Church of São José.

Beco dos Canudos is next to the Sanctuary and concentrates not only charming, but also well-preserved houses, where several handicraft shops are located. Other nearby attractions that deserve your attention are the Congonhas Museum, a space dedicated to Aleijadinho's works, and the Romaria, an old inn that housed devotees without financial means, who arrived in Congonhas on foot or horse, who had visited the region since 1770. for the celebrations of the Jubilee of Senhor Bom Jesus de Matosinhos.

Photo: Gustavo Albano

Other points of interest:

  • Mother Church of Our Lady of Conception
  • Rosary Church
  • Waterfall Park

Where to stay:

Historic Cities of Minas Gerais: Ouro Preto

Black gold It was an important city at the time of colonial Brazil due to the large amount of gold and other precious stones found in the region. In this way, all the wealth made the city an important economic, political and cultural center. Surprisingly, the destination is among the most visited in Minas Gerais and carries the most important collection of architecture and art from the colonial period in Brazil. Such importance brought the title of the first Brazilian city to be declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Ouro Preto is located just 56 km from Congonhas and hosts several music, dance and film festivals throughout the year. That is, the city breathes culture and proof of this are the numerous cultural spaces, museums, art galleries and handicraft workshops that the city has.

Secondly, the local gastronomy also makes the destination famous: Ouro Preto has an impressive range of restaurants and bistros with great reviews.

Photo: Gustavo Albano

Things to do in Ouro Preto:

To get to know the main attractions of the city, you need at least 3 days in the destination. Therefore, churches, chapels, squares, mansions, museums, bridges, gold mines, natural attractions and even a day trip to other cities such as Mariana, are some of the programs available in Black gold.

Tiradentes Square next to the Inconfidência Museum form the most emblematic scenario of the destination and are the ideal point to start a tour. However, be prepared to go up and down steep slopes nonstop: Ouro Preto was built in the middle of the mountains, bringing breathtaking views that seem to have come out of paintings in a painting.

Discover the stories and curiosities of the destination in the 9 museums spread throughout the historic site. However, if your time in the city is short, give preference to the Museum of Sacred Art, the Casa dos Contos and the Museu da Inconfidência.

In addition to being able to observe a huge collection of artistic pieces and decorative elements in the Rococo style, the city's churches also give access to great views of the city and present impressive facades, which show all the wealth of details signed by artists such as Manuel da Costa Ataíde and Crippled

trails and waterfalls

Do you like trails and waterfalls? Of course, eco-tours are also among the must-see activities in historical city from Ouro Preto. Pico do Itacolomi can be seen from almost every angle of the city and offers a panoramic view of the entire region. In addition, another very popular attraction, ideal for hot days, is the Parque da Cachoeira das Andorinhas. The park is open from 6 am to 6 pm and gives access to viewpoints, waterfalls and wells formed by springs, which look like natural pools hidden in true oases that appear in the middle of the forest.

Photo: Gustavo Albano

Other points of interest:

  • Mine du Veloso
  • Largo de Coimbra Soapstone Fair
  • Aleijadinho's house
  • Municipal Theater
  • Ouro Preto Railway Station
  • Marília de Dirceu Fountain

Where to stay:

Historic Cities of Minas Gerais: Mariana

Very close to Ouro Preto, the elegant Mariana is another historic city of Minas Gerais that cannot be missing from your itinerary. The municipality is 10 km from Ouro Preto and can be accessed by car, circular buses and train, departing from the train station.

The city was the first capital of the state and the richest during the gold cycle, losing ground in the future to Ouro Preto. With more than 300 years, the city is 112 km from Belo Horizonte and concentrates above all a large part of the historical and cultural heritage of Minas Gerais.

Photo: Gustavo Albano

Things to do in Mariana:

Mariana is small and can be enjoyed in just one day. First, the best option to check out the attractions is to walk around the Historic Center. Start the tour at Praça Minas Gerais and check out the main postcard of the destination: Casa da Câmara e Cadeia, Igreja São Francisco Assis and Igreja Nossa Senhora do Carmo.

In addition, other points that yield great photos are the square that houses the Catedral Basilica da Sé and the Basilica of São Pedro dos Clérigos, located in an upper area of the city, with a privileged view of all Mariana.

Adventurers will love the Passagem Gold Mine tour. Access is made in a trolley that guides the public to one of the largest mines open to the public in the world!

Photo: Gustavo Albano

Other points of interest:

  • Archdiocesan Museum of Sacred Art
  • Brumado Waterfall
  • Train station
  • House of Alphonsus de Guimaraes

Where to stay:

Read too:

» Travel by car along the Royal Road
» Charming hotels and inns on Estrada Real
» Places to visit in Ouro Preto
» 14 pictures of Tiradentes that will convince you to travel there

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