Brazil: A trip to the colonial baroque

Portuguese colonialism in Brazil has left its mark on architecture.

Portuguese colonialism in Brazil has left its mark on architecture, and churches and large solar houses and rooftops are evidence of what Brazilians call a "colonial baroque." Ouro Preto, Diamantina, Salvador and Olinda are some of the cities where Baroque architecture and the influence of Portuguese colonialism are more evident. This is a trip to the history of Brazil.

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Ouro Preto

The city, 95 kilometres away from Belo Horizonte, is more than 300 years old and was recognised by Unesco as a World Cultural Heritage. Among the hundreds of churches, there are several works by António Francisco Lisboa, known as the "Aleijadinho" (the cripple), among which the Church of San Francisco de Assis (1766), one of the main expressions of the baroque in Minas Gerais. The Mother Church of Nossa Senhora do Pilar is famous for the approximately 400 kilos of gold used to cover the church elements, which has more than a hundred sculpted angels. Ouro Preto also has other points of interest, such as Direita Street, Tiradentes Square and the Museum of Conspiracy, where it is possible to know better the history of Portuguese colonialism in the city.

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Also recognised by Unesco as a World Cultural Heritage, Diamantina, located in the state of Minas Gerais, 292 kilometres from Belo Horizonte, was also recognised by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute for its wealth of buildings typical of the colonial period. In the city, the contrast between the simplicity of civil architecture and the ostentation of the great sites and churches is striking. Noteworthy is the Passage of Glory, which connects two 18th and 19th century houses, the House of Chica da Silva and the Mother Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Soledade and the Church of Nossa Senhora D’Ajuda.

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Founded in the year 1549, Salvador was the first capital of the country. And it was in this city, which originally had port functions to support the Eastern routes and the large sugar export centre, that members of the Portuguese noblemen and high clergy built several religious buildings and luxurious residences. Examples of these are the Sete Candeeiros Solar, Saldanha Palace and the churches of Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia, Ajuda and Sé. In addition, Salvador also has well-known squares, as Nova da Piedade, Palácio and Terreiro Of Jesus, where influences are evident.

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Olinda was recognised as a Historical and Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by Unesco and was elected the first Brazilian Capital of Culture in 2005. Founded in 1537, the city is located six kilometres from Recife and has stone streets and markets that show the Colonialist architectural influence. Highlights include Sé Church, the Monastery and Church of São Bento, and the Ribeira Market. Here, what used to be a space for slave trade is nowadays a space dedicated to handicrafts, where various musical and entertainment events also take place.

© Rita Barreto

Tags: Destinations, Brazil