The city of Belo Horizonte, whose name means “beautiful landscape,” is the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, in the southeast of Brazil. Although the population of the metropolitan region is over 2.5 million, the city is known among the residents for being a small place, where everyone more or less "knows each other".
If you only have a couple of nights or a few days to spend in Belo Horizonte (also known as BH) and you want to visit places nearby, I recommend you start at the region of Pampulha. It is a big area, with over 150 thousand residents, full of green and open spaces to walk around. The temperature is pleasant, people are friendly, and the food is just incredible.
It is worth visiting it at least once, since it is quite different from Ouro Preto, for example. We are now dealing with modern buildings, from the XX century, and places that are part of the locals' daily life. Below, you'll find the three places you cannot miss whenever on a stroll in Pampulha. Tighten up your shoes and prepare to walk!
This church is internationally known for being planned by the architect Oscar Niemeyer, an icon of the modern Brazilian architecture- responsible for planning the capital of Brazil, Brasília. Unlike the churches we see in Ouro Preto, this one is built over round shapes. Its blue wall tiles are painted by the famous Brazilian artist Candido Portinari. Whenever you visit the church and the lake of Pampulha (“Lagoa da Pampulha”), walk around it and watch the capybaras that live on its edges. They are funny and friendly animals that you will probably only see in Brazil.
Have you ever heard of the Cruzeiro Esporte Clube? It is one of the biggest football teams of Minas Gerais- it is also the main rival of Atlético Mineiro. They often play against each other on a stadium popularly known as “Mineirão” (a reference to the name of the state-Cruzeiro actually coordinates it). It is very close to Lagoa da Pampulha; therefore, you can visit both within a few hours. If you want to enter it and visit its museum, there is no need to make prior reservations. If you intend to watch a match, please do not forget to try the “feijão tropeiro,” a popular dish made with beans and pork. Delicious!
It is not a properly touristic place, but it is worth the stroll! The Pampulha campus is enormous, occupying 5 million m², and they estimate over 50 thousand people walk through it every day. It is a very arborized place, where you can see various native trees and even observe the animals. Engineering, communications, arts, and other courses are taught in its buildings, so you will notice a diversity of students. It is very interesting!
For sure there is a lot more to see in Belo Horizonte, so prepare yourself to spend more than one day in this city. Food, people and landscapes will make it worthy!
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