Ouro Preto is a city in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, a former colonial mining town located in the Serra do Espinhaço mountains and designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its outstanding Baroque architecture.
The University And The Repúblicas
Ouro Preto is also a university town with an intense student life. The Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (Federal University of Ouro Preto or UFOP) has approximately 8,000 students. Many of them live in communal houses that are somewhat similar to fraternity houses as found in North American colleges. These communal or shared houses are called repúblicas, of which 66 belong to the university, called repúblicas federais, and 250 are privately owned (repúblicas particulares).
The city contains numerous churches, many famous for their religious art and baroque architecture. Some of the best known are:
- Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) - just off Tiradentes Plaza, next to the Inconfidência Museum.
- Säo Francisco de Assis (St. Francis of Assisi)
- Nossa Senhora da Conceiçao (Immaculate Conception)
- Capela do Padre Faria (Father Faria's Chapel)
- Nossa Senhora das Mercês (Our Lady of Mercy)
- Museu da Inconfidência - In the former municipal palace on Tiradentes Plaza, traces the Inconfidencia independence movement.
- Museu do Oratório (Oratory Museum) - next to the church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo, displays religious art.
- Museu de Ciência e Téchnica (Museum of Science and Technology) - in the Ouro Preto School of Mines building on Tiradentes Plaza. The museum is noted for its collection of beautiful mineral specimens.
- Casa Dos Contos - Historical museum.
A number of former gold mines in the city offer tours to tourists. One of the most well known is the Mina do Chico Rei (Little King Mine) near the sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Conceiçao.
Street carnival in Ouro Preto attracts thousands of people every year. Traditional band music is played across town, and many people dress up in costumes during the holiday. There are two main types of street parades in town: the one with samba schools and the one with blocos. Carnival usually takes place in February or March, depending on the definition of Lent. It starts on the Saturday immediately before Lent and ends on Ash Wednesday.