Belo Horizonte (Beautiful Horizon in English) is the capital city of Minas Gerais, a Brazilian state situated in the southeastern region of the South American country. With a population of 2,479,175 as of 2013, Belo is not only Gerais’ most populous city, but is also the 6th most populous city in Brazil. The city was inaugurated on December 12th, 1897, when it was known as the Minas City (Cidade de Minas). The current name was definitively adopted in 1901.
Surrounded by the Serra do Curral mountain range, Belo Horizonte is nicknamed “Garden City” for its status as one of Brazil’s most arboreal cities. The city is a stage for major cultural spectacles and its calendar is always filled with excellent events offering programming for different tastes. There are 3 universities, numerous libraries, and a historical museum. It is also a reference in both business & health tourism and according to the International Congress and Conference Association’s (ICCA), ranks 7th among the Brazilian cities that receive the most international events.
Belo Horizonte serves as the distribution & processing center of an endowed agricultural and mining region as well as the nucleus of a fast growing industrial complex. The chief manufactures here are steel, steel products and textiles, but gem stones, gold and manganese mined from the surrounding regions are processed in Belo. When it comes to tourism, this Brazilian city attracts people both from Brazil and around the world. Moreover, the climate is cool and refreshing since it sits at 850m above sea level.
Belo preserves the traditional mineira culinary tradition that features simple ingredients and great creativity with some historical aspect in it. One can find typical food options, regional drinks and excellent international cuisine ranging from Italian, Japanese, and French to Spanish Cuisine. All these are available in the diverse restaurants that maintain high standards in customer service. For those who prefer the local gastronomy, they can pick from tasty coffee, artisanal beers, a sugarcane alcohol called cachga or Minas cheese known as queijo minas. In fact, Belo is known as pao de queijo (The Land of Cheese Bread).
Things to do in Belo Horizonte
While the city is mainly associated with sports (in particular soccer), it has more to offer visitors in terms of nightlife, sightseeing and outdoor activities. Below are some of the top things to do in Belo.Visit the Sao Francisco de Assis Church (Igreja Sao Francisco de Assis). For a small fee, visitors can get to see this unique church which boasts of a bold and authentic design. Its beauty is further enhanced by the stunning paintings on the external & internal panels by Portinari as well as the surrounding gardens that were designed by Burle Max.
Visit the Zoo-Botanical Foundation of Belo Horizon (Zoologico – Fundagao Zoobotanica de Belo Horizonte).
One of Latin America’s most extensive zoos, the Zoo-Botanical Foundation is home to the first ever butterfly sanctuary in the region. There’s also a center in the zoo that’s dedicated toward the conservation & preservation of species under threat of extinction.
Go shopping at Shazam
For comic fans or those looking for a souvenir to take back home, Shazam offers a unique and shopping experience and is a must visit! It’s a shop located at the Maleta building and has several vintage book shops in addition to its bars.
Estadio Governador Magalhaes Pinto (Mineirao).
With about 72,000-seater capacity, Mineirao is one of the largest stadiums in Brazil and is mostly used for soccer matches. The full name of the stadium is Estadio Governador Magalhaes Pinto which originates from Jose de Magalhes Pinto, the Governor of Minas Gerais between 1961 & 1966 when the stadium was built. It will play host to 6 matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, including a semi-final match. At its opening, Mineirao had almost double its current capacity and in fact it recorded a 132,834 attendance during a 1997 match between local club Cruzeiro and Villa Nova. Its capacity has been gradually cut down for safety reasons.
Venue for concerts
Since its construction, Mineirao has hosted several music events albeit just a few of them. They include the performances by Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce, Paul McCartney, Black Sabbath and Alex Brasil.
Getting to Mineirao
The stadium is just 6.5-miles from the center of Belo Horizonte which will provide the proper match day feel. There are buses or taxis that provide transport to the stadium, although these may sometimes be congested!
What to eat
Minas Gerais offers both locals and visitors a rich cuisine to choose from. Mineiros really love their food and it’s therefore little wonder that traditional dishes are a main feature in most of the excellent restaurants. They include cheese bread (pao de queijo), roasted young lamb (Leitao a pururuca), a combination of beans and vegetables (feijao a tropeira) and tutu a mineira, but you can also choose from a variety of foreign cuisine.