Discover Pirenopaolis and the City of Goias, Brazil
Goias state is in many respects considered the most central state in Brazil. Its key tourist attractions are the old towns of Pirenopolis and the City of Goias but Emas National Park and Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park are also worth a peek.
Pirenopolis is a captivating old town founded in 1727 following the discovery of gold on the bed of the Das Almas River. It got its name from the nearby mountain range – the Pyrenees (not to be confused with the European Pyrenees on the spanish-french border). Because of its heavy dependency on the gold trade, the town was gradually abandoned when the gold ore eventually ran out.
Yet, at the start of the 1980s, a new realization piqued interest in Pirenopolis – growing numbers of artists and alternative lifestyle proponents were drawn by the well-preserved historical buildings and the enthralling beauty of the more than 20 waterfalls fairly close to the town. In addition, the town still had and has to this day a bustling emerald mining industry.
Before long, jewelry stalls, restaurants and handicraft shops sprouted and thrived. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1989, the town soon became a popular getaway for residents of the national capital Brasilia as well as influential business and political powerbrokers. As it is only a three hours drive from Brasilia, Pirenopolis is notoriously crowded during the weekend. But if you can manage to visit it on a weekday, you will enjoy peace and quiet at its finest.
Two miles from downtown Pirenopolis are the Aqua Quente, Pilao and Andorinha waterfalls. Further off are the 70-foot high Abade waterfalls. As one would expect, the falls closest to town are usually the most crowded.
Due to strong influences from spanish and portuguese immigrants, the celebration of victories over Moor armies are a dominant theme in much of Pirenopolis history and culture. A good example is the Cavalhadas Museum which is focused on the Cavalhadas festival, a celebration that commemorates of Christians over Moors in the Iberian Peninsula. The city’s other significant museum is the Pompeu Family Museum which takes visitors through Pirenopolis’ own history.
Church of Our Lady of the Rosary
This is Goias State’s oldest church and was constructed by black slaves in the 1720s. At more than 3.6 feet, its walls are the thickest of any in Brazil. Other old churches in Pirenopolis include the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Church of Our Lord of Bonfim.
The City of Goias
The City of Goias is today a World Heritage Site. Virtually all that is interesting about this historical city is confided to the old town area. Indeed, a trip through this historic city is like travel through time to see 18th and 19th century Brazil at its finest.
Important monuments in the old town include the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Museum of Falgs, the Cora Coralina House, the Santana Cathedral, the Monastery of the Annunciation and a 19th century Dominica Fathers Convent.
There are also several important events that take place in old Goia city. None is more prominent than FICA (the International Festival of Environmental Film and Video). Founded in 1999, it is considered the largest environmental film festival in the world. Other festivals include the procession of the Fogareu and the annual carnival.