Founded at the end of the 17th century, Ouro Preto (Black Gold) was the focal point of the gold rush and Brazil’s golden age in the 18th century. Within a decade of its founding in 1698 as a mining settlement, it became the centre of the greatest gold and silver rush in the Americas to that date.

The most striking thing about the town is the beautifully preserved eighteenth architecture that sits atop a steep hill. It is considered one of the finest examples of colonial and baroque architecture.

The built heritage of the Historic City of Ouro Preto bears exceptional testimony to the creative talents of a society built on pioneering mining wealth under Portuguese colonial rule. Although the architecture, paintings, and sculptures are based on underlying models introduced by Portuguese immigrants, the works vary significantly from the contemporary European art, not only with respect to their spatial conception, but in their decorative treatment.

The relevant examples of religious and civic architecture and the accompanying works of art within Ouro Preto have been preserved in terms of form and design, materials and immediate setting. Controlled growth of the city’s surrounding areas and limits on the scale of new buildings have served to maintain the urban landscape of the 18th and 19th centuries within the property largely unaltered.

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