Clarion Hotel Lourdes - Belo Horizonte
Rua Bernardo Guimaraes 2032
Belo Horizonte, 30140-082
Phone: (55) 31 30550650
Fax: (55) 31 30550651
Arts & Museums
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.
The Cemig Popular Art Center integrates the Liberdade Cultural Circuit and has an impressive collection of art made by people from all over the state of Minas Gerais. The building, an old hospital, is an example of eclectic architecture of 1929. After extensive renovation works, the Popular Art Center opened in 2012 as a place to preserve and publicize the Minas Gerais popular culture. There are permanent and temporary exhibitions of a wide range of pieces produced in various regions of the state throughout the past three centuries. There is also a cafe outside in the garden, and free guided visits on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Museum of Mineralogy opened in 1974, closed its doors in 1992 and re-opened in 2000 at its current location. The building was nicknamed by locals as Rainha da Sucata (Queen of the Scrapyard) due to its odd shape and as a reference to a famous Brazilian TV series from the 1990s. It is an example of post-modern architecture designed by Sylvio de Podestá and Éolo Maia, which clashes with the neighboring neoclassical or Art Deco buildings and uses contrasting materials and geometrical forms. The museum has a collection of around 3,000 items dedicated to education in mineralogy. There are diamonds, rocks, minerals, gems, fossils, meteorites, etc. Guided visits, workshops and talks are all available.
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.
A rather curious institution, the Museum of Mining and Metallurgy is located in the building known as "the pink house" near Liberdade Square. Built in 1895 as the headquarters for the Education Secretary, it has been fully revamped to house this super-technological museum. The neoclassic façade has been preserved, as well as an elevator dating from 1926 - one of the oldest in Belo Horizonte. The museum pays tribute to ten mining areas in the state of Minas Gerais, divided by the type of metal or mineral extracted from each. Most displays are interactive, including a virtual descent to 2,450 meters deep into the earth accompanied by members of 19th-century Brazilian royalty. Free entry on Thursdays, paid on other days.
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.
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 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 state of Minas Gerais started developing in the late 17th century when gold mining expanded in the region. By 1897 the local government decided to move the capital city from Ouro Preto to a new spot, then called Cidade de Minas (City of Mines). This eventually became Belo Horizonte, a modern, rich and influential city. In order to reflect this, architects Luiz Signorelli and Rafaello Berti were commissioned in 1936 to design the town hall. The building is a fabulous example of Art Deco architecture prevailing in the 1920s and 1930s, with straight lines and an impressive clock tower. There is an art gallery in the building, and the foyer usually serves as a venue for events and exhibitions too.
Mercado das Borboletas is an ambitious project started in 2010 and is still in progress. The brainchild of a group of local artists, it is a multi-arts complex, market and entertainment venue in the busy Belo Horizonte city center. Mercado das Borboletas occupies a space on the 3rd floor of a previously derelict building and aims at providing a space for alternative, independent and grassroots artists of all types to showcase their work. They hold markets, exhibitions, performances concerts, club nights and other creative events of all sorts, always aiming to encourage sustainable practices. Check their website for their events listings every week.
Belo Horizonte was the first 'commissioned' city in Brazil, designed by architects and engineers to be the new and modern capital of Minas Gerais. Before the city was built, the area was a farmland known as Curral del Rey. The building where Abilio Barreto Museum is today was the manor house in Leitão Farm, a small estate set up in 1883 to accommodate the people working on the construction of the city. It became a Museum in 1943, curated by local historian Abilio Barreto. It has a vast collection of paintings, documents and personal objects that tell the history of the capital. Outside in the gardens, there is a tram car and a steam locomotive that were also part of Belo Horizonte's history.
Located in one of the heritage buildings in Belo Horizonte's city center, the Contemporary Art & Photography Center has been a cultural hub since 1997, when it was still managed by Rio-based Moreira Salles Institute (IMS). It is now locally run by the Clovis Salgado Foundation, but it still organizes exhibitions and other events in partnership with the IMS. The Center has a permanent collection of photographs and hosts temporary exhibitions every season. It is also a space dedicated to artistic research, production and debate, promoting courses, talks and workshops and offering studio space for visual artists to work in.