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ST. HELENA

St. Helena

Where Napoleon Spent His Final Years The last home of the exiled French emperor has been preserved
 

ST. HELENA

St. Helena

 
 

ECUADOR

Quito

 
 

GERMANY

Berlin

 
 

FRANCE

Paris

 
 

SPAIN

Girona

 
 

GUIDE LIGHTS

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BRAZIL

Ouro Preto

 

Ouro Preto

Lonely Planet Brazil, 11th edition

“FOR THOSE seeking a tangible sense of Brazilian history,” says the 11th edition of Lonely Planet Brazil, “no state compares with Minas Gerais.” And of all the colonial towns scattered throughout Minas Gerais, Ouro Preto, a hilly town of narrow, crooked streets, 400 kilometres north of Rio de Janeiro, “is the jewel in the crown.”

Founded in 1711 as a gold-mining town, it grew fast: “the local deposits were soon discovered to be the largest in the New World.” That gave it the money to bring in the skilled artisans who made it an architectural gem. It was enshrined in 1980 as Brazil’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. “There are virtually no 20th-century buildings in this colonial town,” notes the guidebook. There are 23 churches, and 150 of the houses have historical plaques on them.

Brazil’s greatest sculptor, Antônio Francisco Lisboa (1738-1814), known as Aleijadinho (Little Cripple), was born in Ouro Preto and some of his finest works are here. Using only native materials such as soapstone and wood, he developed a style based on European baroque and rococo traditions. The guidebook recommends a visit to the Igreja de São Francisco de Assis (www.museualeijadinho.com.br), whose entire exterior was carved by Aleijadinho.

Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Ouro Preto “is especially dazzling.” For four days leading up to Easter Sunday “the town becomes a giant stage… Around midnight Saturday, locals begin opening bags of colored sawdust on street corners all over town, unleasing an all-night public art project in which 3km of Ouro Preto’s cobblestone streets are covered with fanciful designs, a giant carpet marking the route of the following morning’s Easter procession.”

 

www.lonelyplanet.com

 

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