All eyes are on Brazil as the 2014 World Cup approaches, not to mention the country’s recent inclusion in travel magazine Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2014 – top 10 countries” has it on many travelers list of must-sees. Rio de Janeiro may be top of mind for many, but there is much more to explore outside the bustling city. Ouro Preto is one Brazilian city to put on the radar as it has been seemingly frozen in time, providing an architectural and cultural adventure to all visitors.

Located in the state of Minas Gerais, the city is known for its former mines, sweeping views of the Serra do Espinhaço Mountains and beautiful Baroque architecture. The history of Ouro Preto began with a gold rush, hence the Portuguese name translating to “Black Gold.”

Architectural buffs will love the ornate facades that line the streets as modern buildings seem relevantly non-existent. All present-day construction must observe to historical standards set by the city. The architecture has been known to be so stunning that the area was dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tourists walking the cobblestone streets will enjoy numerous classically designed Portuguese churches and wandering through many museums including the historical Casa Dos Contos and the museum of science and technology. If travelers get there at the right time of year, the Ouro Preto street carnival attracts thousands who come to dress up in costume and listen to traditional bands and samba.

Below the historic streets are another prized sight: the gold mines. Tourists can take cars down into the darkness for a look into the life of miners who occupied the mines back in the 18th and 19th centuries, viewing the machinery and old trams they once used.

Whether you’re an architecture or mining enthusiast, looking to enjoy a great annual festival or simply seeking a mountainous escape, put Ouro Preto on the wanderlust list!

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