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When you hear the words “mining camp,” the phrase “most charming city” may not necessarily follow. But when it comes to Tiradentes, Brazil, they do.
Located at the bottom of the Serra de São José—a mountain range with a nearby trail that takes hikers through some stunning rock formations—Tiradentes is a part of Minas Gerais, a region known for its baroque architecture.
If you can, visit Tiradentes during the week (to avoid crowds) during a spring bloom. The surrounding wildflowers will only add to the fairytale scene you can encounter year-round. The city’s baroque architecture is a stark comparison to the natural landscape hovering around Tiradentes: bright palettes of yellows, ceruleans, and reds covering homes huddled underneath the blue Serra de São José mountains.
It has all of the elements of a charming city: colorful homes, cobblestone roads, horse-drawn buggies, more antique stores than you can visit in one trip. But it wasn’t always this way; in the early 18th century, Tiradentes wasn’t called Tiradentes.
It wasn’t until 1718 that the current-day Tiradentes was given a name: Vila São José, a move to honor the reigning Prince D. José I. In 1789, the area received a new (and lasting name), Tiradentes, this time dedicated to the martyr of the Inconfidência Mineira, according to Visit Brazil. Tiradentes mining activity soon after came to an end and the city dormant until it was rediscovered in 1970.
Lucky for all of us, Tiradentes and its architecture was in great condition thanks to its remote location among the mountains. Today, you can still drink water from the same source—the São José fountain—that locals drank from in 1749. And like the rest of the Minas Gerais, the city’s crown jewel is a religious gathering place: The Church of San Antonio, the second-largest amount of gold used to construct a building in Brazil, featuring a facade constructed by artist Aleijadinho and an organ from Portugal dating back to 1788.
If you find yourself planning a visit during the summer, aim for August, when you can experience the Tiradentes Culture and Gastronomy Festival, which brings chefs from Brazil and around the world together to teach cooking classes, host dinners, and take over restaurants.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten path destination to shop, eat really good, hike, and sight see in Brazil, do yourself a favor and do a quick image search of Tiradentes. You’ll be planning your trip before you know it.