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Belo Horizonte Map

Belo Horizonte is the capital and largest city in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, located in the southeastern region of the country. It is the third largest metropolitan area in the country. Belo Horizonte (also known as "Belo", "Beaga", or "BH") has a population of 2,475,440 inhabitants (2010) in the city, 5,497,922 people in the official Metropolitan Area (2010), and in the expanded metropolitan area is home to about 9,010,376 inhabitants (2011).


The region was first settled in the early 18th century, 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. The city features a mixture of contemporary and classical buildings, and is home to several modern Brazilian architectural icons, most notably the Pampulha Complex. In planning the city, Aarao Reis and Francisco Bicalho sought inspiration in the urban planning of Washington, D.C. The city has employed notable programs in urban revitalization and food security, for which it has been awarded international accolades.

The city is built on several hills and is completely surrounded by mountains.There are several large parks in the immediate surroundings of Belo Horizonte. 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 km2 (580 acres), of which 0.9 km2 (220 acres) is native forest. The "Mata do Jambeiro" nature reserve extends over 912 hectares (2,250 acres), with vegetation typical of the Atlantic forest. More than one hundred species of bird inhabit the reserve, as well as ten different species of mammals.

Belo Horizonte Landmarks

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 Mineirao stadium, and the Sao 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 buildings include the Mesbla and Niemeyer buildings, in addition to the headquarters of corporations such as Usiminas, Seculus, and Telemig Celular.

In the downtown area, landmarks include the church of Sao Jose, the Praca da Estacao (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 Central the area, in the Lourdes neighborhood, the Lourdes Basilica, is an example of Gothic Revival style. The Nossa Senhora de Fatima Church, in Santo Agostinho neighborhood, is situated in Carlos Chagas Square. Both churches are referred to as the Assembleia Church and the Assembleia Square because of their proximity to the state's legislative assembly.

Next to the downtown region is the famous Savassi district, 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 Praca da Liberdade (Liberty Square), and its surrounding buildings, including the former Executive Offices of the governor called the Palacio da Liberdade (Liberty Palace), the first building to be finished during the city's planned development in the late 1890s. The government offices moved to the "Cidade Administrativa" in 2010. This complex is made by a few massive buildings just outside the city. Nowadays, the "palaces" are being turned into museums. Still on Savassi, the meeting point of many social groups, especially the youth, is "Praaa da Savassi" (Savassi Square), which is not exactly a square, and more a crossing between two major avenues (Getulio Vargas and Cristovao Colombo), and gathers some of the busiest bars and pubs (called locally "botecos" or "botequins")in town.

Another important landmark is Praca do Papa (Pope's Square), located at a high point south of the downtown area, with its great view of the entire city. It is named for the July 1st, 1980, visit by John Paul II, who held a youth mass there. The nearby Parque das Mangabeiras (Mangabeiras Park) features extensive wildlife, and-owing to its considerable size-has its own bus service, which operates solely within the confines of the park.

On Sundays, Afonso Pena Avenue hosts Latin America's biggest open-air market. This is the Market of Arts and Handicrafts, most commonly known as Feira Hippie (hippie fair). Every Sunday morning 70,000 visitors find food, drinks, clothes, furniture, earrings, shoes and almost anything else.

Links:Fortaleza City Council home page & Brazilian Federal Government