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Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais

Area: 332 km²
Population: 2 305 812 inhab. (Est.2003)
See map of Minas Gerais.
Climate in Belo Horizonte.

The name Belo Horizonte means Beautiful Horizon. The city is often referred to as BH, which is pronunciated as "Beagá".
The city's Economy is the third largest in Brazil, being smaller only than Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Created to overtake Ouro Preto as the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte is one of the few Brazilian towns that were planned (other major cities which were planned before construction are Brasilia and Palmas). Situated at an altitude of 858.3 metres, its construction began in 1893 and it was inaugurated four years later with the name Cidade de Minas Gerais. In planning it, the engineers, Aarão Reis and Francisco Bicalho, found their inspiration in the town plan of Washington DC (USA).


Because it is a city that was actually planned, and also because of its neoclassical and modern architectural features, Belo Horizonte can be regarded as a landmark for town planning and for architecture in Brazil.
Visitors should not miss the Pampulha Center, the site of the first revolutionary works of Oscar Niemeyer, the best known Brazilian architect. The Pampulha also has works by the artist Cândido Portinari, by the world famous landscape architect Burle Marx and by sculptor Ceschiatti, and includes the church of São Francisco de Assis, the Belo Horizonte Museum of Art, the Yacht Club, the Dancing Academy, the House of Juscelino Kubitschek, the Headquarters of the Zoo-Botanical Foundation, the monument to Iemanjá and the Mineirão and Mineirinho stadiums, registered as historic heritage.

Another of the important architectural works of Belo Horizonte is the Palace of Liberty, the seat of the State Government. Constructed in the neoclassical style, it is the result of the influence exercised on Brazilian architecture by a French mission that visited the country at the end of last century. Particularly interesting as places to be visited in the capital are the Mineralogy and Historical Museums and the Palace of the Arts, situated in the Municipal Park, with a modern theatre, cinema, craft shop and space for exhibitions of plastic arts.

Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Belo Horizonte in Brazil

In the area surrounding Belo Horizonte there are parks of great natural richness such as Mangabeiras, located six kilometres from the city in the Serra do Curral. This park provides an astonishing view of the capital with an area of 2.35 million m2, of which 900 000 m2 are native forest. There is also the Mata do Jambeiro nature reserve extending over 912 hectares, with vegetation typical of the Atlantic Forest. In it live more than one hundred species of birds and ten different species of mammals.

The beautiful and diversified mineiro craft can be purchased at the store Mão de Minas, a craftsmen cooperative from all over the state. Every Sunday morning, in the Afonso Pena avenue that crosses the city center, there's the Feira de Arte e Artesanato (Craftwork and Art Street Market), with almost 3 thousand tents.

From Belo Horizonte, the visits to historical cities from Minas Gerais are easier, as there are two airports and a well-structured road transport system. It has hotels with high level of comfort and high quality restaurants with different specialties.

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