Belo Horizonte, named by its own inhabitants BH, “beaga” in Portuguese, is the biggest city and capital of the Minas Gerais state. This city is located 450 km northwest of Rio de Janeiro.
As its name suggests it, Belo Horizonte offers an incredible view from the mountains that surround the city. There are around 2.5M inhabitants living in Belo Horizonte and more than 5.5M if you count the agglomeration, making it the 3rd biggest city in Brazil after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Its tropical climate is a lot enjoyable however the summer season can be very hot.
History of the 3rd largest city of Brazil
Before the city was built in the XVIIIth century, Belo Horizonte was owned by farmers and used for agriculture purposes. Even today, the Minas Gerais state still has a strong economy based on agriculture. Precious metals and stones like gold and emeralds have massively contributed to its growth.
At first, Belo Horizonte was supposed to be the capital of the first republic of Brazil, as it was at the time the richest city in Brazil, thanks to the mining activity and the milk production.
Belo Horizonte was designed by the architect Aarão Reis and built by Italian migrants. The city structure was originally inspired by Paris and Washington but then evolved in an anarchic way, in order to respond to a fast growing economic activity.
The architecture was later revisited by Oscar Niemeyer, one of the most notorious architects in Brazil. He designed for example Pampulha, a neighbourhood with an artificial lake and a museum conceived in the 40’s.
Inhabitants of Minas Gerais differ from the rest of Brazil for multiples reasons
Belo Horizonte benefits from a cultural mix thanks to the many waves of immigration.
People from Minas Gerais are called Mineiros and have a curious reputation.
They are known for telling you exactly what they think, being natural and direct people.
They are very energetic during both day and night: the city counts multiples large squares with concert and events.
If you feel like listening live music, we advice you to visit the Praça do Papa. If you like Art, have a look at the Palacio Das Artes, which is an art gallery during the day and entertainment centre at night.
Minas Gerais offers multiples museums: Museum of the city history, Museum of Minerais and more… Don’t forget to visit Inhotim, only a few kilometres away.
The chic neighbourhood of Savassi is a great place to hang out on a Saturday night. On Sundays, nothing better than having a walk at the Mercado central to enjoy traditional dishes or at the Feira de Artisanato, one of the biggest markets of South America.
Football is a religion in Brazil and of course as well in Belo Horizonte
Belo Horizonte counts two famous football teams: Cruzeiro, the oldest, and Atletico Mineiro. The rivality between these two teams is passionate and can be sometimes brutal.
Minas Gerais, rich from many points of view
Belo Horizonte is not a touristic city. Being one of the most important economy of Brazil, people mainly travel there for business purposes.
The state of Minas Gerais is as large as France and hosts many lovely colonial cities to visit. Do not miss Ouro preto, Ouro Branco, Diamantina, Tirandentes, São João Del Rei. They offer a view on the typical traditional colonial Portuguese architecture, especially regarding the churches.
The gastronomy of Minas Gerais
The gastronomy of Minas Gerais is one of the most elaborate of Brazil due to its history, even though we have heard a few Brazilian complain about the food being a little bit too fatty…
The most famous dish is the feijão tropeiro, composed of brown beans mixed with manioc flour, fried bacon, eggs, farofa, garlic, onions and spices. We love it!
Pão de queijo, national bread made in Minas Gerais
Pão de queijo (bread with melted cheese) is a gastronomic speciality from Minas Gerais. Its consumption started during the XIXth century when cheese was produced in large quantities.
Have you ever been to Minas Gerais? If you did, please share you experience and your thoughts about the state and the article!