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Ouro Preto seen by Jean-Paul Delfino


Although it is registered on the world heritage UNESCO list, Ouro Preto can definitely not be compared with any other city. No huge buildings or sky scrapers can be found here, nor avenues crammed with cars. Life goes on, calm and quiet. Set inside its jewel-case surrounded by the forest where the deep green hues contrast with Brazil’s red earth, Ouro Preto has managed to protect what has always been its strong point. Of course, there is no more gold left, although its name comes from the grains of gold dust that the gold-diggers managed to extract from the black river beds. The flourishing trade counter that, in the gold-rush era, sent tons of the precious metal to the Royal Court of Lisbon, is now merely a big village growing slowly through the seasons.

But what a beauty!

Everywhere colonial buildings have been preserved, with their typically Portuguese azulejos dotting the limed frontages with white and blue. The even alleys climbing or descending from Tiradentes square, offer architectural marvels two or three storeys high that do not try to show off. Fountains, gently sloping roofs with ochre tiles, innumerable churches, museums that bring you back to the inhuman times of slavery, restaurants that offer incomparable mineiras specialties – meaning from Minas Gerais state – , paved streets, theatres, souvenir shops,… nothing is missing.
And to top it all off, everywhere floats the shadow of one of the greatest geniuses in the Brazilian nation. The Aleijadinho (the little maimed man) has indeed been the master of baroque art. Struck by an illness somewhat similar to leprosy, the Mulatto spent his whole lifetime sculpting wood and stone. When his fingers could no longer be useful to his art, he cut them off himself and had his tools fastened to his stump. He was compelled to use steatite instead of stone, a crumbly substance also called soapstone. And he went on in this way, until he died, inventing the art of sculpture in Brazil, in Ouro Preto…

Written by: © Jean-Paul Delfino (This text is subject to copyrights protection in accordance with existing laws)

Other texts by Jean-Paul Delfino are available here: Travel Diaries - Jean-Paul Delfino

Jean-Paul Delfino is a French writer and screenwriter so passionate about Brazil that he has taken on the writing of a major novel fresco entitled "Suite brésilienne" which covers three centuries of great Brazilian history.

Wikipedia : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Paul_Delfino