Photographer's Note

A more classical view of colonial Ouro Preto, a UNESCO World Heritage Landmark.
Founded in 1698, Ouro Preto (Black Gold)was the focal point of the gold rush and Brazil's golden age in the 18th century. It still resembled a boom town when it was given city status in 1711 with the name Vila Rica. A decade later it became capital of Minas Gerais captaincy, which even today is one of the principal mineral extracting regions of Brasil. In late 1790's a group of intellectuals and professionals assembled here to plan Brazil's independence from Portugal. The movement known as Inconfidencia Mineira was promptly crushed by the Crown and its leader, a dentist, immortalized as Tiradentes (toothpooler), was executed and beheaded. In 1823, a year after Brazil's independence, Ouro Preto was named capital of Minas Gerais province. In 1897, however, because of transportation difficulties the capital was transferred to Belo Horizonte.
Ouro Preto today lives largely in the past. In 1933 it was declared a national monument and the surrounding region a national park, so that the city's elaborate (mostly late 18th-century) public buildings, churches, and houses might be preserved or restored. The city has many extremely ornate (gold leafed) Baroque churches; religious architecture and sculpture reached its zenith during the mid 1700's under the skillful hands of Antonio Francisco Lisboa, better known as Aleijadinho ("Little Cripple").
Its museums and churches are rich and beautiful. Most recently Ouro Preto was used for the signing of the new economic treaty linking Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, known as Mercosul.

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Additional Photos by elena crescia (elena) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 199 W: 57 N: 256] (1054)
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