Diamantina Tourist Attractions
Diamantina lies in the Jequitinhonha valley, in the heart of the sertão of Minas Gerais, some 200km/125mi as the crow flies north-east of Belo Horizonte.
It is reached on BR 040 and BR 135 to Curvelo, then BR 259.Bust StationLargo Dom JoãoHistoryDiamantina developed out of a small treasure-seekers' settlement on the banks of the Tijuco, a tributary of the Rio Grande, and finally became the main center in this area of Minas Gerais with its numerous diamond mines - an area so rich in diamonds that even as a mere arrayal ("encampment") the place remained under the direct administration of the Crown, enjoyed no civil liberties and was confined to the exploitation of the deposits of precious stones. Most other activities, even gold-prospecting, were prohibited, and a passport issued by the royal authorities was required to enter or leave the town. As a result of this isolation, which lasted for almost a hundred years, this colonial settlement has remained largely intact.Diamantina, the birthplace of President Juscelino Kubitschek, is the historic town in Minas Gerais which lies farthest from Belo Horizonte; but it is nevertheless well worth visiting, not only for the town itself but also for the beautiful and varied scenery on the way there, particularly between Curvelo and the slopes of the Serra do Espinhaço. The town lies under a steeply scarped rocky hill.
Market HallIn the municipal Market Hall are sold craft products from the Jequitinhonha valley, cheese, typical local sweets, etc. Close by is the Cooperativa de Artesanato, which specializes in Arraiolos-style wool carpets (Arraiolos is a Portuguese town famed for its carpets).
Bishop's PalaceIn Rua do Carmo is the Bishop's Palace (Palácio Episcopal), originally João Fernandes de Oliveira's house, the Casa do Contrato.
Beco da Mota
Beco da MotaIn front of the Carmelite church the Beco da Mota and Beco do Alecrim intersect. The Beco da Mota, once a red light district, is now the town's cultural and intellectual center. The music of the serestas (small groups of accordeon, flute and guitar players) is still heard in Diamantina, which has a strong musical tradition.
PrefectureIn Rua da Quitanda, to the west of the Cathedral, are the Prefecture, housed in the 18th century Casa da Intendància, and the Antìnio Torres Library (18th century books and manuscripts), in the Casa da Quitanda, which also dates from the 18th century.
The streets of Diamantina are paved with cobbles (pés de moleque, "negro children's feet") apart from a central strip of large flat stones, the capistrana. There are particularly fine old houses in the historic center of the Arraial do Tijuco, the Rua do Burgalhau, which leads to Praça Barão do Guaicuí, in which the town market, the mercado dos tropeiros, is held. Two buildings of particular interest are the Casa da Chica da Silva and Casa da Glória.
Nossa Senhora do Carmo
N.S. do CarmoIn Rua Bonfim (south of Largo do Rosário, near Ruas do Carmo, do Contrato and da Quitanda) is the church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo, known as "Chica's church". The church was built by the diamond dealer João Fernandes de Oliveira between 1758 and 1765 for the Ordem Terceira do Carmo (Third Order of the Carmelites). Since he was determined that the church should be built opposite his house, the Casa do Contrato, he broke with the Carmelites, who disapproved of that site, and built the church entirely at his own expense. Particularly noteworthy is the ceiling painting (1778-84), which is cramped into a small space and dark in color - features characteristic of painting in the Diamantina area. According to some authorities they symbolize the repression to which the town was subjected and its inhabitants' feeling of constriction. This masterpiece by José Soares de Araújo depicts the prophet Elijah being carried up to heaven in a fiery chariot.
Chica da Silva's House
Chica da Silva'sHouseChica da Silva, the legendary "Chica que manda" ("Chica who commands"), was a mulatto slave girl from Serro who became the mistress of the diamond dealer João Fernandes de Oliveira. Her house on Praça Lobo Mesquita, near Rua do Contrato and south-east of the Metropolitan Cathedral (1933-40), has a large veranda, several balconies, 18 rooms and, in the inner courtyard, a small chapel. It is now occupied by the Centro Zambi de Estudos e Pesquisas da Cultura Afro-Brasileira (Center for Afro-Brazilian Studies).
Corpus Christi Festival
During the Corpus Christi festival the streets of the town are decorated with colorful patterns of sawdust, colored sand and flowers such as azaleas and bicos de papagaio (cactus blossoms).
The house of Padre Rolim, who was involved in the rising of the Inconfidentes, is now occupied by the Museu do Diamante. The collection includes 18th century furniture, Chinese and English porcelain, tabernacles, specimens of minerals, documents on mining in the Diamantina area and instruments of torture used on slaves. The Museum is in Rua Direita, which runs between the Cathedral area and Praça Juscelino Kubitschek (Praça JK).
São Francisco de Assis
São Francisco is the magnificent church of São Francisco de Assis (1766). The high altar is entirely covered with gold leaf. The choir chapel has paintings (1782 onwards) by Soares de Araújo; the ceiling of the sacristy has painting by Silvestro de Almeida Lopes (1795).
Nossa Senhora do Rosário do Pretos
N.S. do Rosário dos PretosNorth-east of the market square in Rua do Rosário, which links Praça Barão do Guaicuí with Largo do Rosário, is Diamantina's oldest church, Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos (Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks), built in 1728. The choir chapel has wall paintings (1779) by José Soares de Araújo, who worked in the Diamantina area from 1765 onwards. The Festa do Rosário (Festival of the Rosary) is celebrated here around October 7th.
Nossa Senhora das Mercês
Beco da Mota runs into Rua das Mercàs, which leads south. On this street is the church of Nossa Senhora das Mercàs (1778-84).
Casa de Juscelino
Casa de JuscelinoAlso in Rua São Francisco is the house in which President Juscelino Kubitschek spent his early years. It displays photographs and mementoes of the President, who was killed in an automobile accident in 1976.
Casa da Glória
Casa da GlóriaIn Rua da Glória is the Casa da Glória, which consists of two ranges of buildings (respectively 18th and 19th century) linked by a small wooden bridge. It now houses a branch of the Eschwege Institute of Geology.
Map of Diamantina Attractions