Clarion Hotel Lourdes - Belo Horizonte
Rua Bernardo Guimaraes 2032
Belo Horizonte, 30140-082
Phone: (55) 31 30550650
Fax: (55) 31 30550651
Lourdes Basilica is consecrated to Our Lady of Lourdes, legendary representation of Virgin Mary that would have appeared in France in the 19th century. This magnificent church was built between 1916 and 1923 and was elevated to the category of Basilica by Pope Pio XII in 1958, due to its importance, historical context and refined architecture. Minas Gerais has a tradition of richly decorated churches, but the most relevant of these are located in Congonhas, Ouro Preto, Tiradentes and Mariana, all quite far from the capital. If you can't afford to go to these towns, a visit to the Resurrection Chapel inside Lourdes Basilica is highly recommended, as it houses small replicas of the other historical churches around the state.
Liberdade Square is one of the most important places in Belo Horizonte. Originally built at the end of the 19th century adjacent to the state governor's palace, it was just another green area to serve as a leisure space for locals. The gardens are dominated by a beautiful fountain and a promenade with palm trees on either side. Throughout the 20th century, however, it became the focus of architectural developments around the city, and you can now find a summary of BH's architecture styles around the square. Neoclassic, Art Deco and modernist buildings stand side by side and house museums, theaters, banks and government offices. This is known as "Liberdade Square Cultural Circuit", although each building operates independently.
Housed in the former State Treasury Office building dating from 1897, the Minas Gerais-Vale Memorial offers a fantastic journey through the history and culture of the state. There are 31 exhibition rooms and spaces in which you can learn about local traditions, folklore, literature, music, history and politics through interactive and dynamic displays. Brazilian multimedia artist/architect Gringo Cardia is the Memorial's curator and responsible for the concept of this ever-changing institution. His concept is based around three ideas that represent the state's past, present and future reflected all over the exhibitions: Immemorial and Classical Minas Gerais, Polyphonic and Multicultural Minas Gerais, and Visionary Minas Gerais.
Liberdade Palace was built between 1897-98 in the neoclassical style influenced by French architecture which was predominant at the time. It served as workplace and residence to Minas Gerais state governors between then and the 1970s, when governors preferred to work from the newly built Administrative Center. The most important politicians to ever reside and work at the Palace were Juscelino Kubitscheck, Tancredo Neves and Itamar Franco, all of whom went on to become presidents of Brazil. The interiors of the Palace are richly decorated in the style of Louis XV. Surrounding gardens are a highlight, as is the main staircase in the foyer. Open for guided visits only. Booking not necessary, just register at the front desk upon arrival.
This mammoth block of flats was designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and commissioned by state governor Juscelino Kubitscheck (what JK stands for) in 1952. The building could not be completed until 1970, though, due to its being too ambitious a project. The original plan was to offer affordable housing for the local population, as well as a hotel, nightclub, a movie theater and a leisure area. Only the apartments were kept as planned. There are 1,086 apartments and over 5,000 people living at the JK. In addition, there is a Touristic Terminal - an urban bus station with shops, tour agents and a police station.
The Minas Gerais Public Archives were founded in the city of Ouro Preto in 1895 and transferred to Belo Horizonte in 1901. It has been in its current location since 1938, a mansion that used to be the residence of the state treasurer. The archives have an extensive collection of documents, movies, photos and maps pertaining to the three different periods in Brazilian history. Special highlights of the collection here are 18th-century maps, rare publications (including some clandestine ones) and records on the Inconfidencia Mineira (Minas Gerais Conspiracy) in 1789, an important revolution against Portuguese domination over Brazilian territories.
The Central Market in Belo Horizonte opened in 1929 and was managed by the town council until 1964, when the mayor threatened to close it due to lack of public resources to keep it going. The stall keepers then decided to start a cooperative business and take it over from public administration, and it has survived as such to this day. An excellent place to get fresh produce and taste the local cuisine, it has arts and crafts stalls too. They offer guided tours that can be booked at the Tourist Information Point in the market. The best way to blend in is sitting at one of the food stalls savoring a cold beer and freshly cooked liver and onions.
The Mineiro Museum is part of the Liberdade Cultural Circuit, located in the old Minas Gerais Senate building, which dates from 1895. The collection of paintings, sculptures and archaeological objects that composes the museum was started in 1910 and was kept in the Public Archives building. It was not until 1982 that the Mineiro Museum opened as such, and its collection now has over 2,600 items between works of art, documents, personal objects, photographs and furniture. Their sacred art collection dating from the colonial period (17th-18th centuries) deserves special attention. Guided tours are available upon request.
The Public State Library is an architectural reference in the city of Belo Horizonte and in the Liberdade Cultural Circuit. In addition to Niemeyer's famous work here, a mural by Brazilian contemporary artist Amilcar de Castro can be seen on one of the external walls. It boasts a collection of over 260,000 items, including materials in braille and audiobooks. The library offers free internet access to the general public and printing services are available for a small charge. The library also has exhibition rooms, workshop spaces and a 220-seat auditorium theater.
Designed by visual artist Leo Santana, this monument/installation is composed by four life-size figures representing important writers from Minas Gerais. The monument takes its name from a novel by Fernando Sabino, one of the writers honored with the installation. 'A Time to Meet' (Encontro Marcado, in its original) was published in 1959 and narrates the story of three friends living in Belo Horizonte and going through an existential crisis. The monument also depicts Helio Pellegrino, Otto Lara and Paulo Mendes Campos, rendering it the nickname of "The Four Riders of the Apocalypse." It was originally located in Liberdade Square, but was moved to just outside the Public Library in 2009, where the writers would probably feel more at home.
Open since 1961, the Maletta is a huge and popular building that is steeped in the political history of the city and the country. Most of it is taken up by residential apartments, but the first two floors concentrate a wide range of shops and services to cater for a varied audience. There are bookshops, bars, restaurants, hairdressers, clothes shops, among others. Cantina do Lucas is one of the most traditional bars in town, and an old hangout for musicians, students and left-wing politicians. Shazam is a fantastic second-hand bookshop, officially listed as part of the city’s cultural heritage. Satisfeita, Yolanda? is your best bet for funky clothes for men and women.
St. Joseph Church is the second oldest church in Belo Horizonte. It started being built by Dutch priests in 1902 and was finished in 1916. Despite the strong Dutch influence, the church is predominantly an example of Neo-Manueline architecture, a Portuguese Gothic trend from the 19th century. Strategically positioned in the city center, if you look at it from the top of the Acaiaca Building opposite, it looks like the church is standing on top of a triangular chalice formed by the external staircase and side streets. The internal paintings by German artist Wilhelm Schumacher are wonderful and some are rather intriguing, like the twelve zodiac signs and one showing three hares joined by the ears forming a triangle.