Relax in the beautiful surroundings of Belo Horizonte
The capital of the Brazillian state of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte is in many respects a somewhat average Brazilian town. The town itself has a grid plan and is modeled somewhat on the street plan of Washington DC. The city has both richer and poorer areas and a few interesting attractions. Many people stop over in Belo Horizonte en route to other destinations so it is definitely worth it to find out more about this town.
Belo Horizonte started life as a gold-mining settlement called Curral del Rei and was founded in 1701. When the gold ran out, Curral del Rei slowed down dramatically. In 1890 it was renamed Belo Horizonte and just seven years later it became the Minas Gerais capital. The Minas Gerais (General Mines) areas has a strong mining history and has seen not only gold digging activity but iron, nickel, manganese ore, bauxite and uranium mining. As a result of the wealth generated from this digging and refining the 18th century saw a lot of ostentatious building activity. The resulting architectural style is known as Minas Baroque and is definitely worth a look at if you have an appreciation for architecture. Perhaps one of the most perculiar characteristics of Belo Horizonte is that the surrounding hills are filled with so much iron that cars in the outer-most parts of the city left in neutral tend to be slowly drawn uphill by the magnetic force which is present as a result. If you don't believe it, just ask one of the local guides or taxi-drivers and they will assure you that this is a very real aspect of the hills.
Besides the rather picturesque surroundings, there are a few interesting attractions to be seen. Freedom Square and Nossa Senhora de Lourdes are just two of them. The Palacio das Artes and Pampulha are another two. The Museu Mineiro and the Museum of Mineralogy are appropriate in an area dedicated to the trade. The Natural History Museum and Botanic Garden might prove more interesting for those who are not too interested in mineral while the Belo Horzonte public park is a great place to relax. Belo Horizonte is not a targeted tourism place, but the shops are well priced and the history of the area is somewhat intriguing. And since it is the location of the Belo Horizonte International Airport, you are bound to pass through it at some stage during your travels in Brazil. So make the most of a good opportunity and enjoy yourself while you are here.