Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Belo Horizonte (literally means “Beautiful Horizon”), the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, is Brazil’s third largest city, next only to the megacities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The city was built on a plan that corresponded to that of Washington D.C. It is now considered as one of the cities in Latin America that has the best quality of life. The city has also become a major cultural center, with many educational institutions numerous libraries, historical museum, and several sports stadiums.

Belo Horizonte is built on hills and is completely surrounded by majestic mountains. Its streets and blocks display some very interesting features. One attraction is its chessboard layout. Navigating the streets can be tricky as they constantly rise and fall. But the wide avenues that are lined with trees are easy guidelines.

Unfortunately, the population growth has been bigger than predicted a century ago. This explains the slums and many poorly built architecture. But still, the city has retained some excellent colonial structures. When you visit Belo Horizonte, make sure to visit the market on Ave. Afonso Pena on Sunday and the fin-de-siecle buildings surrounding the Praca da Liberdade.

Praça da Liberdade is a beautiful square lined with lush palm trees. It is sidelined by fascinating buildings constructed in the 19th century, including the seat of the State Government, and a curvy edifice from the 1960s.

Another must-visit attraction is the Museu de Artes e Ofícios (Museum of Arts and Crafts). The museum is housed in the 19th-century buildings of the former Central Train Station. The collections show the richness of popular work and professions in Brazil before its industrialization.

Pampulha is worth your trip. This 1940’s neighborhood highlights Brazil modern architecture, which includes the São Francisco de Assis Church. By itself, the structure is not shocking until you grasp it was meant to be a church. It is not surprising that the Catholic Church refused to consecrate São Francisco de Assis Church for more than 10 years.

Parque Municipal is also a major attraction in Belo Horizonte. Parque Municipal is a sanctuary of green right in the heart of downtown. Its layout is derived from French parks, as evidenced by small, charming lagoons where you can feed the ducks or rent a boat. It houses the Casa dos Pneus, the Casa Maluca, and a lovely small amusement park. These places are for children who always like to play.

Mangabeiras Park is the perfect place for visitors who love nature. It is the place where the Cerrado meets with the Atlantic Forest. Alta Vila Tower is also a crowd pleaser. Situated in the Nova Lima district, it offers an awesome view of the city and its surrounding mountains.