Mariana, Brazil was the first city to be founded in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais. It was also the region’s first capital and home to the first bishop. The history of Mariana takes us back to the time of colonial Brazil, and is set in a period of discovery, religion, art and a search for gold that brought a spirit of pioneering and wealth to the region. Today, Mariana is the guardian of important Brazil cultural heritage and the history of Minas Gerais, and no Brazil holiday is complete without a stop in Mariana.
A walk through the streets of Mariana is an invitation to discover the discreet charm of the city, found in its 18th-century houses and other references to colonial Brazil. The Praça do Coreto is the meeting point of the community, and visitors will be surprised by the surroundings: fine works of art in nearby artist studios and great culinary achievement in the best Mariana restaurants around the square. We offer a great Mariana tour to introduce visitors to the best Mariana has to offer.
Here is our list of the top Mariana attractions and things to see in Mariana.
Museu da Arte Sacra (Museum of Sacred Art)
In the historical centre of Mariana it is possible to visit the Museu da Arte Sacra (Museum of Sacred Art). Consisting of some 2000 pieces, the collection ranges from religious sculptures, paintings, civil and religious vestments, objects of worship (some of which are still used today in religious ceremonies) and secular artefacts such as crockery, porcelain and crystal.
Catadral da Sé (Sé Cathedral)
Next to the museum is the Catedral da Sé, which guards a precious musical treasure – an organ built in the first decade of the 18th century in Hamburg, Germany by Arp Schnitger (1648 – 1719); he was one of the greatest organ builders of all time. The cathedral itself is also one of the most important churches in Minas Gerais. It has one of the most beautiful Baroque altarpieces in the traditional Portuguese style. A visit to the Cathedral of Mariana is also a good opportunity to learn a bit about the colonial art of mining.
Cathedral Organ Concerts
One of the most exceptional pieces of the 18th century Minas Gerais State is the organ in the Sé Cathedral, presented by D. John V when the town was elevated to the status of city and diocese. The magnificent sounds of the Arp Schintger organ are the main focus of the exciting concerts that can be heard at the Cathedral of Mariana. Coordinated by Ash and Josina Elisa Godinez, the concerts are held weekly in two performances: Fridays at 11 am and Sundays at 12:15 pm. They last approximately 45 minutes.
Casa de Câmara e Cadeia (Chamber House and Jail)
Protected by Iphan (the National Institute responsible for preservation), the building is considered to be one of the most beautiful samples of colonial architecture in Minas Gerais. It was constructed in brick with stone trimmings. Originally built in 1782 to house the town council, it has had a wide range of functions including a slave quarters, a place to melt gold and the first seat of the Minas Gerais government. It became the emblem of Brazil, replacing the Portuguese Crown.
Igreja de São Francisco (San Francisco Church )
In Mariana’s landscape stands the imposing church of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi. He is buried inside and memorialized in paintings by Manoel da Costa Athayde, the greatest painter of Brazilian colonial art.
Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Church of Our Lady of Carmo)
Though nearly destroyed by a fire in 1999, Our Lady of Carmo still hasn’t been deprived of its historical place as a great Mariana church. Only the high altar, built in the Rococo style, was not destroyed by the flames. Originally erected in 1784, the Minas Gerais church was recovered after the accident and now displays many of the works that have earned it fame, such as the ceiling paintings done by Francis Xavier Carneiro.
A rare attraction that draws the attention of many Minas Gerais visitors, a pillory such as the one in Mariana is found in few cities. Built in 1872 and measuring over 5 metres high, the pillory contains the crest and of the empire with arms that old a sword and scale, the symbols of justice.
Igreja de São Pedro dos Clérigos (Church of Saint Peter of Clerics)
The atrium of this impressive Mariana church has the best views of the town. Its construction was begun at the initiative of the first bishop of Mariana, Dom Frei Maneul da Cruz. With heavy references to Baroque architecture, the Minas Gerais church is of great importance to the Brazilian architecture of the colonial mining period.
Museu Arquidiocesano (Archdiocesan Museum)
The Archdiocese Museum of Sacred Art is housed in the Chapter House, a beautiful building with decorative elements from the Rococo style. The Minas Gerais museum includes a large variety of paintings and works by Aleijadinho and Master Athayde. The collection also features sacred objects of silver and gold, sculptures and religious attire of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Museu Casa Alphonsus de Guimarães (Museo Casa Alphonsus de Guimarães)
This collection relates to the life and work of poet Alphonsus de Guimarães. The Minas Gerais museum offers guided tours and organizes literary evenings.
Trem da Vale
The locomotive, built in 1949, has wooden interior designs similar to other trains in the early 20th century. The train travels to Ouro Preto, a short distance of only 18 kilometres covered in less than an hour. But the feeling of time travel is guaranteed. The train passes through the distinctive landscape of the Minas Gerais state, formed by waterfalls and mountains. The ride is offered on weekends and holidays.
Museu da Música (Music Museum)
The collection consists of several documents, some of which relate to the beginnings of Minas Gerais and the Bishop of Mariana, offering visitors a permanent exhibition. The Minas Gerais museum is housed in the Cultural Center Dom Frei Manuel da Cruz.
GASTRONOMY IN MARIANA
The historic cities of Minas Gerais follow in the traditions of delicious Brazilian cuisine, which refers to the gold rush and the time when cowboys roamed the mountains. In Mariana, visitors can delve into the true mining spirit, which extends from the cuisine and the cozy ambience of the Mariana restaurants, many of which are located on Praça Gomes Freire and the District of Passage. Minas Gerais food includes tutu mineiro, crisp and crackling, cornmeal, bamba cabbage, chicken with okra and a good cachaça.
ACCOMMODATION IN MARIANA
Mariana tourism is rediscovering its historical and architectural value. After all there are few cities that offer a set of such full attractions in Brazil. Fine Minas Gerais hotels serve the city and tends to offer more quality for the tourist. Click here to check for accommodation in Mariana and make you online booking.
SHOPPING IN MARIANA
The streets of the Mariana historic centre have several shops offering paintings, sculptures, sacred music, oratorios and furniture produced by local artists. In the district of Cachoeira do Brumado, the highlights are animals carved in wood, sisal rugs and pots of soapstone.