The city has a number of churches and chapels as well as some excellent examples of chafariz (public fountains), passos (oratories) and stone bridges. The best place to start exploring the city is the central Praça Tiradentes, where you’ll see a statue of Tiradentes, the leader of the Inconfidêntes . Another Inconfidênte, the poet Tomás Antônio Gonzaga, lived at Rua Cláudio Manoel 61 near the São Francisco de Assis church, and was exiled to Africa. Most Brazilians know his poem based on his forbidden love affair with the girl he called Marília de Dirceu. Visitors are shown the bridge and decorative fountain where the lovers held their trysts. The house where she lived, on the Largo Marília de Dirceu, is now a school.
On the north side of Praça Tiradentes is a famous Escola de Minas (School of Mining). It was founded in 1876, is housed in the fortress-like Palácio dos Governadores (1741- 1748) and includes the Museu de Mineralogia e das Pedras (No 20, Mon, Wed-Fri) 1200-1645, Sat and Sun 0900-1300, US$1.50, which has displays of rocks, minerals, semi- precious and precious stones from all over the world. Just north of the praça, towards the rodoviária, is the church of Nossa Senhora das Mercês e Misericórdia (1773-1793).
On the south side of the praça, next to Carmo church, is the Museu da Inconfidência (No 139, T031-3551 1121, Mon-Fri 0800-1800, US$1.50) a fine historical and art museum in the former Casa de Câmara e Cadeia, containing drawings by Aleijadinho and the Sala Manoel da Costa Athayde.
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