Didem Doğan

City-walks, Belo Horizonte

Before heading to Ouro Preto a morning walk in town. Belo Horizonte, meaning beautiful horizon in Portuguese, is the capital city of the State of Minas Gerais. Its significance comes from the fact that the precious metals, most important of them gold, was founded in their region during the Colonial period. Today, it is the fourth biggest city, in terms of income, after São Paulo, Rio De Janeiro and the capital city of Brasilia. It is also important in the political history of Brazil since the independence movement started here by the leader Tiradentes, whose name is given to one of the colonial cities in the region. The historical colonial towns follow one another: Ouro Preto, Tiradentes, Congonhas and others. Ouro Preto is the most famous one due to its numerous well preserved monuments. My morning walk starts at the Independence Square, the palm trees line up the nice square, it’s spring time and the flower blossoms colour the trees. I pass down the square, cross the avenue and reach to another park which is huge and wonderful, the Municipal Park takes you into another world with little lakes, wooden banks, covers you with trees, one never stops to admire the nature in Brazil, even in the city. Right at the main entrance of the park a photography exhibition: the famous photographer, activist, documentary film maker Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s pictures of the earth form the sky, I take my time and look at every picture, then I walk back, this time from the parallel street and I reach another square, the name of it comes from the Cathedral at the same place, Nossa Senhora de Boa Viagem, Our Lady of the Good Trip, the name of the Saint who is believed to have protected the Portuguese sailors while crossing the Atlantic. This name is also the name of this region where most of the religious buildings were founded since the 18th century. I walk up and reach back to the Independence Square. The Museum is open now: Memorial Minas Gerais Vale, a three floor yellow palace in Portuguese style with elegant interiors, coloured marble floors, fer forge stairs, exhibits, contrary to its historical style, a technological exposition of Brazil’s cultures with video installations, with great Brazilian music.