Belo Horizonte (Portuguese pronunciation: [bɛloɾiˈzõtʃi]) is the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, located in the southeastern region of Brazil. It is the third-largest metropolitan area in the country. Belo Horizonte (or “Beagá”, as it is also familiarly known from the sound of its initials “BH” in Portuguese) has a population of almost 3 million, reaching over 5.4 million in the official Metropolitan Area.
The first settlements in the region occurred in the early 1700s, but the city as it is known today was planned and constructed in the 1890s, in order to replace Ouro Preto as the capital of Minas Gerais. At the present day, the city is well known for the contrast between contemporary and classical buildings, being in fact the location of many modern Brazilian architectural icons, most notably the Pampulha Complex. In planning it, Brazilian engineers Aarão Reis and Francisco Bicalho found their inspiration in the town plan of Washington D.C.
In the area surrounding Belo Horizonte there are several parks. The “Parque das Mangabeiras”, located six kilometres south east from the city centre in the hills of the Serra do Curral, affords a view over the city. It has an area of 2.35 million m2, of which 900 000 m2 is native forest. The “Mata do Jambeiro” nature reserve extends over 912 hectares, with vegetation typical of the Atlantic forest. More than one hundred species of birds inhabit the reserve, as well as ten different species of mammals.
Belo Horizonte is a leading cultural center, with more than nine universities, a historical museum, numerous libraries, and sports stadiums. The city is built on several hills and completely surrounded by mountains. The constant rising and falling of the streets sometimes makes navigation a bit tricky, but the wide avenues lined with trees are always easy guidelines. The Confins International Airport connects Belo Horizonte with many Brazilian cities and also operates international flights.
Belo Horizonte is the distribution and processing center of a rich agricultural and mining region and the nucleus of a burgeoning industrial complex. Production is centred on steel, steel products, automobiles, and textiles. Gold, manganese, and gem stones mined in the surrounding region are processed in the city. Belo Horizonte is home to the Federal University of Minas Gerais.
Belo Horizonte Photos
Belo Horizonte’s climate can be classified as Tropical of altitude, with yearly average temperature between 9°C (48.2°F) and 35°C (95°F). The Köppen climate classification of the region is tropical savanna climate, (Tropical on high altitudes, humid/warm summer and a dry/cool winter). As a city located in the southern Hemisphere, Belo Horizonte’s spring starts in September, its summer in December, its autumn in March, and its winter in June. Belo Horizonte is located about 300 km (186 mi) distant from the sea.
Even though inter-seasonal differences are not as pronounced as they are in temperate places, and many people believe that, as in much of Brazil, there are just two seasons (a hot and humid one from October to March, and a colder and drier one from April to September), there is a contrast between spring and summer, and between fall and winter.
The coldest month is generally July, with a lowest recorded temperature of -4.1°C (24.62F). The hottest month is usually January, with a highest recorded temperature of 35.4°C (95.7°F).
There can be problems related with low air humidity during August. The 852 m (2795 ft) elevation of Belo Horizonte helps a little in cooling the city, suppressing high maximum air temperatures experienced in nearby cities at lower altitudes.
Belo Horizonte’s climate is mild throughout the year. Temperatures vary between 11°C (51.8°F) and 31°C (87.8°F), the average being 20°C (68°F). Winter is dry, and summer is rainy.
There are many notable Brazilian artistic groups which have their origins in Belo Horizonte. Grupo Corpo, which is perhaps the most famous contemporary dance group in the country, was created in the city in 1975, travel internationally and are acclaimed throughout the world. Giramundo is an important group, specialized in performing puppet shows. They maintain the museum of the puppets they created since their foundation in 1970, first launched a complete album in 1981, and has released 11 works since that year.
Another innovative artistic group is Uakti. They create their own musical instruments using materials like PVC, wood, metals and glass. The origin of their name is based in a myth by the Tukano Indians, and reflects the indigenous feeling present in their works. Many important rock groups were founded in Belo Horizonte, being among them Jota Quest, Pato Fu, Skank, 14 Bis, Sepultura and Tianastácia.
Clube da Esquina is a musical movement that originated in the mid 1960s, and since that time their members have been considered influent in Minas Gerais culture and have important artists such as Tavinho Moura, Wagner Tiso, Milton Nascimento, Lô Borges, Beto Guedes, Flávio Venturini, Toninho Horta, Márcio Borges, Fernando Brant and 14 Bis, among others.
Every two years, the city realizes the FIT BH, The International Theater Festival of Belo Horizonte, which attracts artists from all over Brazil and many parts of the world. In 2006, there was an extreme sports event in Belo Horizonte with a slogan that became very popular in Belo Horizonte: “Eu amo BH radicalmente”, or “I love Belo Horizonte radically.”
The regional food and the “Cachaça”, international drink from the State of Minas Gerais are the most top rated of this city.
Belo Horizonte has a number of museums, among them: Mineiro Museum, Abílio Barreto Historic Museum, Arts and Workmanship Museum, Natural History Museum and the UFMG Botanic Gardens, Telephone Museum, Pampulha Art Museum, Mineralogy Museum Prof. Taylor Gramke, UFMG Conservatory, Giramundo Museum.
Comida di Buteco
In January and February, a specialist jury selects 31 bars which, in the months of April and May, compete to see which one makes the best appetizers.
International Theater Festival
With the merger of two projects that would happen separately in 1994, one stage based, organized by the Francisco Nunes Theater, and the other street based, idealized by Grupo Galpão, came FIT-BH Palco & Rua. Produced every two years, under responsibility from the Belo Horizonte City Hall, through the Municipal Culture Office and the Association Movimento Teatro de Grupo of Minas Gerais, in the program there are street and stage shows, and also seminars, workshops, courses, talks, etc.
FID – Circulando BH
Between March and April, is the new performance program from FID aiming the wide dissemination of contemporary dance in the city of Belo Horizonte. It’s the program that makes feasible presentations of groups from Belo Horizonte in their hometown. For this project the priority invitations went to the shows created by groups and choreographers living in the city of Belo Horizonte: Raquel Pires, Meia Ponta Dance Company, Camaleão Dance Group, Idéia de Dança, Cia SeraQue?, Gabriela Christófaro, Mário Nascimento Dance Company, Dudude Herrmann and Palácio das Artes Dance Company. The purpose is to take shows and other activities such as workshops, talks and video screenings to the less privileged regions of the city regarding access to cultural assets.
Tourism and recreation
Belo Horizonte has several significant cultural landmarks, many of them situated in the Pampulha district, where there are notable examples of Brazilian contemporary architecture. These include one of the largest soccer stadiums in the world, the Mineirão stadium, and the São Francisco de Assis Church, widely known as Igreja da Pampulha, designed by Brazilian Modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer. In Pampulha there is also the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais campus, whose buildings themselves are important contributions to the city’s architecture. Other notable Pampulha buildings include the Mesbla and Niemeyer buildings, in addition to the headquarters of corporations such as Usiminas, Seculus, and Telemig Celular.
In downtown Belo Horizonte, are located the neo-Gothic Boa Viagem Cathedral, the church of São José, the Praça da Estação (Station Square), which is an old train station that now is also the Museum of Arts and Workmanship, the Municipal Park, the famous Sete de Setembro Square, where an Obelisk built in 1922 marks the one hundred years of Brazilian independence from Portugal.
Near downtown, in the Lourdes neighborhood, the Lourdes Basilica is located, which is an example of Gothic Revival style. The Nossa Senhora de Fátima Church, in Santo Agostinho neighborhood, is situated in Carlos Chagas Square. Both churches are referred to as the Assembléia Church and the Assembléia Square due to their proximity to the state’s legislative assembly.
Next to downtown is the famous Savassi region, known for fine restaurants and as a center of cultural events as well as the best of the city’s nightlife. Many landmarks are located there, such as the Praça da Liberdade (Liberty Plaza), and its surrounding buildings, including the Executive Offices of the governor called the Palace of Liberty (Palácio da Liberdade), the first building to be finished during the city’s planned development in the late 1890s. Last but not least is the “Rua do Amendoim” (Peanut Street), an example of a gravity hill, where parked automobiles appear to roll uphill, defying gravity. Whether this is an illusion or a magnetic phenomenon is left to the visitor to decide. Though most of the effect seems to have disappeared due to housing development in the area, many people still believe that the street is magic.
Another important landmark is Praça do Papa (Plaza of the Pope), located at a high point just south of the downtown area, with its spectacular view of the entire city. It is named for the July 1, 1980 visit by John Paul II, who held a youth mass there. Afterwards, he stood and remarked over the sea of youthful faces, “Que Belo Horizonte!” or “What a beautiful horizon!” The nearby Parque das Mangabeiras (Mangabeiras Park) boasts extensive wildlife, with an area so huge it has its own internal bus service. It is not uncommon for tourists to see monkeys and other animals, and a few people have even managed to get lost inside its woods.
As in the rest of Brazil, football is the most popular sport among locals. Belo Horizonte has two of the most successful teams in the country, and the city also has one of the biggest football stadiums in the world, the Mineirão, opened in 1965. The older Independência Stadium hosted a legendary victory of the United States World Cup Team 1950 in a 1-0 triumph over England. See England v United States (1950) and Atlético Mineiro, which is also called by its nickname and mascot “Galo” (rooster) . Yet, one of the oldest football clubs in the city and was founded in 1908. Atlético Mineiro was the first Brazilian champion, in 1971, and has also won two CONMEBOL Cups (nowadays called Copa Sudamericana) and 39 State Championships. In spite of so much tradition, the team has suffered through very difficult times recently and was relegated to the Brazilian Série B. However, the club won the championship in 2006 and is back to Série A in 2007.
Cruzeiro was founded in 1921 by the members of the local Italian community. Cruzeiro has been one of Brazil´s most victorius clubs in the 1990s and early 2000s, winning 4 National Cups, 1 National League, 2 Copa Libertadores, and 2 Supercopa Libertadores, and is also the winner of Taça Brasil in 1966 and 34 State Championships including Supercampeonato Mineiro in 2002. The city is also home to América Mineiro, which has its own playing field, the Independência Stadium. It was a major team in Brazil decades ago, but passed three years striving to leave Brazilian League Série C. Things came worse at the beginning of 2007. The team was relegated to the Módulo II of Campeonato Mineiro and didn’t even qualify for playing the Série C, being completely out of Campeonato Brasileiro.
Besides football, Belo Horizonte has one of the largest attendances at volleyball matches in the whole country. Crowds usually go to Mineirinho in order to watch either the Brazil national volleyball team or Minas Tênis Clube matches. Minas Tênis Clube is a sport association with various modalities. Besides Mineirinho, the clubs also plays on its own ground, the modern Vivo Arena. Both its male and female volleyball teams have already won the Brazilian Superleague of Volleyball titles. Belo Horizonte is one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for which Brazil is the host nation.