Students were accompanied by SKEMA Portuguese language teacher, Isabel Mendes Pinheiro. When the students arrived, they went to the city’s highest point to have a panoramic view. Professor Pinheiro explained the city's geography and the influences of its construction. "The city has a very strong connection with religion, so churches were always built in the highest places, giving an idea of God above man", says Mendes.
They visited the Mine of Jeje (XIII century), where a guide explained everything about the gold cycle in Brazil. From the mine they went downtown, visited Santa Efigênia Church and stopped to try the local cuisine in a restaurant dated from the 18th century. To close the day, they had refreshments and ice cream in the city of Mariana, 15 km from Ouro Preto.
For Gabriela Sampaio, SKEMA Brazil's programme coordinator and student life activities, getting to know the environment enriches the student’s experience: “The visit to Ouro Preto is a big opportunity for our students to know about the history of Minas Gerais. It’s also a great chance to get them involved with the people of Brazil, its culture and landscapes”.
Ouro Preto city – first capital of Minas Gerais State
In the central region of Minas Gerais, Ouro Preto city, officially founded on July 8th (1711), gathers the largest and most important collection of architecture and art from the colonial period in Brazil. It was one of the first cities chosen in the world to be a world heritage site, in 1980, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). Its origin dates back to the last decade of the 17th century, with the discovery of gold in the bed of a stream.
The wealth of the economy based on gold mining in Vila Rica left a legacy of great value to the culture. There, two of the greatest artists of the Brazilian colonial period were projected: the architect, sculptor and carver Antônio Francisco Lisboa, the Aleijadinho, and the painter Manuel da Costa Athaíde. Vila Rica became the first capital of Minas Gerais, already in 1721. It changed its name to Ouro Preto, in 1823, and remained the capital until 1897, when the state headquarters became Belo Horizonte. Ouro Preto has estimate 74.558 inhabitants (IBGE - 2020). Main distances: Belo Horizonte (95 km), Rio de Janeiro (475 km), São Paulo (675 km) and Brasília (840 km).