Belo Horizonte: A Complete City

Founded during the 19th Century, former mining city Belo Horizonte has grown to become a metropolitan area with 4 million people — one of Brazil’s largest. The capital of the Minas Gerais region is an economic and cultural centre with many green areas, and the UN has placed it as the city with the highest standard of living in Latin America. It has recently discovered new reasons to attract people — and tourists.

From the football pitch to the dining table

Football fandom in Brazil is practically a religion and Belo Horizonte is no exception. Independência Stadium and Governador Magalhães Pinto Stadium (or Mineirão, as the locals call it) were the stage for the 1950 and 2014 World Cups. These events have helped to shine a light on the city and increase the influx of tourists in search of local attractions... which inevitably include food and nightlife.

The local cuisine includes typical mineiro dishes: frango ao molho pardo (chicken cooked in blood), tutu à mineira (bean purée) and feijão tropeiro (another bean dish), as well as generous deserts — doce de leite (a milk confection) and brigadeiros (Brazilian chocolate truffle). The most crowded restaurants can be found at the lively Santa Tereza neighbourhood, but you should set aside some time to discover the just how many different types cheese and cachaça you can taste at Belo Horizonte’s Central Market!

Nightlife and Culture in the Horizon

To help with your digestion, nothing like tasting the local alcoholic beverages — cachaça and caipirinha — and go out for some dancing. A local proverb will tell you a lot about life in Belo Horizonte: não temos mar, vamos ao bar (“We have no sea, let’s go the bar”). Most socializing occurs around a night out with a nice dinner and drinks, and Belo Horizonte is known as the country’s “pub capital” (“capital do boteco”).

To find out more about this side of the city, just go to one of the many bars and nightspots near the Savassi area or Avenida do Contorno. The more dedicated night owls can also head for the clubs and bars at Mercado das Borboletas, (“Butterfly Market”) another local landmark where you can dance to electronic music and Brazilian funk, or maybe catch a concert.

Belo Horizonte’s musical scene has brought forth some talent during the last few decades. During the 1960’s, Milton Nascimento, one of Brazil’s most important singer-songwriters, settled here to begin his career. During the 80’s and 90’s, the city became a heavy metal capital after a local band, Sepultura, built a successful international career. Classical music is also played here: the Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra regularly plays at its auditorium, Sala Minas Gerais

The extensive music, dance and theatre programming at SESC Palladium and Palácio das Artes, cultural centres also underscore the importance of culture in Belo Horizonte’s daily life. At the city centre we also find the Circuito Cultural Praça da Liberdade — this former government block now houses an extensive museum area, including institutions like Memorial Minas Gerais Vale (a museum dedicated to Minas Gerais’ art, culture and history) and Centro de Arte Popular Mineira. Also near Praça da Liberdade, architecture buffs can enjoy the Niemeyer Building, a work by the great brazilian architect Óscar Niemeyer.
Finally, it must pointed out that Belo Horizonte has no shortage of festivals: the International Festival Of Photography, the Belo Horizonte Literature Festival, FestCurtas (short film festival), Elektronika (electronic music, digital arts and technology) or Savassi Festival (jazz and instrumental music), among other events.

A Trip through Nature

In Belo Horizonte, the modern world coexists with Nature. The local climate is pleasant all year round and encourages visitors to enjoy ecotourism and outdoor activities. 
The city has plenty of green areas, such as the Américo Renné Giannetti City Park. The Pampulha area is also definetly worth a visit — its attraction include an ecological park, the Museu de Arte da Pampulha, the Niemeyer-designed Saint Francis Church and relaxing sunsets at the Lagoa da Pampulha, an artifical lake built during the 1940’s. The nearby gardens were designed by Burle Marx
Finally, you can end your trip to Belo Horizonte with a visit to the outskirts of the city, exploring waterfalls, caves and green landscapes of the Serra do Curral mountain range. If you have some time left for a road trip, drive 50 kilometres to the southwest and get to know Inhotim. The place is a peculiar mix between nature park and art gallery: 275 acres of palm trees and gardens with installations and sculptures created by contemporary Brazilian artists. Inhotim is widely regarded as South America’s largest open air gallery.

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