Belo Horizonte Overview
This sprawling metropolis was once just a quiet little mining village which rose to prominence after the discovery of gold in the area. Belo Horizonte translates to “beautiful horizon” in Portuguese, and it is the largest city in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. It serves as the state capital, and provides a wealth of engaging attractions to travelers who find themselves in the beautiful southern province of Brazil.
The city will play host to a number of international soccer contests when Brazil hosts the World Cup in 2014. Tourists from around the world will flock to this sprawling South American country by the thousands to cheer on their national heroes as they battle opposing teams out on the pitch. Estadio Mineirao is the stadium that will house the matches here in Belo Horizonte, and is located a few blocks south of the Lagoa da Pampulha, or Pampulha pond.
Cultural and Artistic Attractions
Belo Horizonte is home to a variety of interesting historical sites, museums and cultural landmarks that are sure to spark the imagination of tourists interested in the idiosyncrasies of this South American nation. If you aren’t out enjoying a game, make time to stop by some of these interesting and interactive locales.
Memorial Minas Gerais - Vale
This cultural site is part of the Cultural Circuit Freedom Square, and houses some unique exhibits that provide a detailed description of the area's origins as a mining community. The goal of this establishment is to ensure that the history and achievements of miners are never forgotten, and their story remains relevant to both locals and tourists. You’ll encounter a variety of artwork that adorns the walls of this structure, as well as some interactive displays that allow visitors to enjoy the educational story that unfolds as you make your way through the memorial.
Dotart Galeria de Arte
This excellent establishment houses some exquisite work crafted by artists from around Brazil. The gallery features mostly modern art, though you may find a few landscapes and figural pieces that harken back to more classic themes. Art connoisseurs will enjoy the bold color fields and interesting sculptural work that is on display, which utilize a variety of abstract forms, curves and angles to accomplish some strikingly beautiful, and compositionally sound, pieces of work.
The Central Market
The Central Market, or Mercado Central as it is known colloquially, is a must-see tourist attraction that features a crowded scene that is uniquely Brazilian. Whether you’re in the market for a souvenir, fresh fruit or musical instruments, the Central Market is the place to look.
Walking through the streets, you’ll encounter endless merchants all trying to sell you their wares at a negotiable rate. Even if an item is listed well outside of your price range, take a minute to see how far your bartering skills will get you. Most of the individuals who sell their items are used to a little back-and-forth from their customers, and you can usually strike a deal that makes everyone a winner.
If you’re hungry, many of the produce and foodstuff vendors will be happy to provide a sample of their stock. Meats, cheeses, exotic fruits and vegetables are all on the menu here in the bustling Mercado Central.
São Sebastião das Águas Claras
Another excellent attraction located just outside the busy streets of Belo Horizonte is the “Town of Monkeys,” or São Sebastião das Águas Claras as it’s known to locals. This little sanctuary provides a bit of natural serenity amid the busy metropolitan center of Nova Lima, and allows visitors the opportunity to hike through some lush foliage and heavily wooded groves. A variety of shopping opportunities are also nestled into this section of the city.
Mar Mineiro Restaurant
Patrons to this little eatery will enjoy the authentic flavors of Minas Gerais. Treat your taste buds to delectable dishes, such as the sole-grilled chicken with mango sauce or Portuguese pork and potatoes. Wash it all down with a glass of South American wine, or enjoy some of the fresh fruit drinks that are prepared upon ordering. Regardless of your personal taste, Mar Mineiro and its friendly staff are sure to provide a flavorful experience you won’t soon forget.
The Orangutang Bar in São Sebastião das Águas Claras is a great place to grab a beer or mixed drink and take in the international soccer matchups going on around the country. This establishment is located near the waterfall and allows patrons to engage in some friendly conversation and light-hearted banter with other soccer enthusiasts who make up the regular crowd. The open atmosphere lets guests gaze out at the beautiful surroundings that envelop the area, and local bands are known to take the stage on weekends.