Goiás (also known as Goiás Velho, Old Goiás) is a small city and municipality in the state of Goiás in Brazil. The population was 24,072 (2007 count) in a total area of 3,108 km² (2002). It is the former capital of the state and preserves much of its colonial heritage. In 2002, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
World Heritage Site
It was the old state capital of Goiás until 1937, when the government seat was transferred to the recently built Goiânia. It was founded by the famed Bandeirante explorer Bartolomeu Bueno da Silva, nicknamed the Anhangüera, and was called in colonial times Vila Boa de Goyaz ("good village of Goias" in archaic Portuguese). Given its historical importance, the historical center of Goiás was included on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 2001.
Goiás Velho was founded in 1727, its name being a tribute to the Goyaz Indians, the inhabitants of the area before the arrival of the Europeans. Its houses, chapels and churches are testimony to the height of the gold rush era. The history of the town, which is intertwined with the history of Goiás state, and certain reminders of the wealth of past centuries carved in gold, can be seen in places such as the Museu das Bandeiras, built in 1761; the Colégio Sant'Ana, founded in 1879 by Dominican friars; the church of Nossa Senhora d'Abadia, constructed in 1790, with its altar painted in blue and gold; and the Casa da Fundição, dating from 1752, where the gold from the mines was cast.
In Goiás, the most popular festival is the Procession of the Fogaréu, which occurs on the Wednesday before Easter Sunday. It is one of the most traditional events of Holy Week in Brazil and only in Angra dos Reis is a similar procession celebrated. During the ceremony the farricocos (the people dressed in medieval robes and hoods that accompany processions of penitence) simulate the arresting of Jesus by running through the streets of the town at midnight with torches to the sound of drums. There is a great resemblance with some traditions that take place in Spain
at the same time of year especially in Toledo and Sevilla. The darkness, the torches, and the speed of the men with covered faces create a medieval atmosphere, frightening and exciting.
The topography of the municipality is characterized by rugged terrain and several rivers. The Serra Dourada Mountains are nearby. Waterfalls and rapids are easily accessible from the center and several of them have beaches open to the public. The most important are:
- Balneário Cachoeira Grande, 6 km from the city
- Balneário Santo Antônio, 6 km from the city
- Balneário Bacalhau, at the entrance to the city
Rivers that cross the municipality are:
- Rio Vermelho, Urú, do Peixe, Ferreira and Índio