Cadeia do Espinhaço

Chapter 4

The Historic Cities of Minas Gerais

Arraial do Tijuco (as Diamantina was first called) was built during the colonial era in the early 18th century. As its name suggests, Diamantina was a center of diamond mining in the 18th and 19th centuries. A well-preserved example of Brazilian Baroque architecture, Diamantina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site" and is located in a mountainous area at an elevation of 1,114 meters. It is roughly a 10 hours driving from Rio (732 Km or 450 mi). ©¹

Today, its 17th century streets and buildings are full of tourists and the historic center stages a most interesting event called Vesperata, a two hours open show of popular music, held on a colonial square twice a month (from April to October). The musicians are spread in a semicircle throughout the balconies of the group of buildings and the maestro conducts from the street itself, with the audience all around him. A fine entertainment!

Diamantina was the home to the most influential Brazilian politician of the second half of the 20th century. Juscelino Kubitschek was president from 1956 to 1961, and he was responsible for the construction of Brasília as the new capital of Brazil.

©¹ Journey on the Estrada Real: Encounters in the Mountains of Brazil, by Glenn Alan Cheney -

More information:

- "The Man from Minas". Time Magazine. February 13, 1956.,9171,893381-4,00.html

- THE DIARY OF "HELENA MORLEY". Time Magazine 1957.
Translated and edited by American poet Elizabeth Bishop,9171,810247,00.html

Photos by Oscar Ribeiro

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