Brazil’s fourth largest state may be landlocked, but what Minas Gerais lacks in beaches it more than makes up for with its other assets. The sparsely populated countryside is characterised by both cerrado and Atlantic rainforest and is crisscrossed by some of Brazil’s most picturesque mountain ranges. There are endless options for outdoors activities from multi-day hikes across high plateaux to more sedate day trips to swim in waterfalls and enjoy picnics of local breads and cheeses (for which the region is famous).
The name of the state, “General Mines”, is a hangover from the 17th and 18th centuries when the exploitation of gold and diamond mines made this one of the richest regions in the world. This mining wealth in turn paid for a large number of artists and artisans who came over from Portugal to work on the elaborate baroque mansions and churches in towns such as Ouro Preto and Tiradentes. It also became a hotbed for homegrown talent and the sublime sculpture and architecture of local born Aleijadinho is one of the main reasons that Minas is home to more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other state in Brazil.
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