Mariana, originally known as Nossa Senhora do Carmo, came into existence with the discovery of gold along the Ribeirão Nossa Senhora do Carmo river in 1696. Known informally as the Primeira Cidade (First City), it is indeed a city of firsts: It was the first vila established in the state and soon became the first state capital, and a major center for the burgeoning gold trade. In 1745, the Portuguese king, Dom João V, renamed the city after his wife, Maria Ana D'Austria. Around the same time, the city became the seat of the first bishopric in the state and hence became an important religious center for the region. In response to the influx of people, streets and rectangular plazas were planned, making Mariana the first planned city in the state. These days, Mariana preserves many of the original colonial buildings and churches in such a thorough way that the traveller almost feels he has stepped back in time.
Ateliê de Marionetes Catin Nardi, Rua do Seminário, 290 - Centro, ☎ 31 9601-7661. Argentinian marionettist Catin Nardi has gained some fame across Brazil for some television shows he has created. He gives weekly shows for tourists every Saturday at 7pm, or by appointment.R$10-15.
Cachoeira do Brumado (Brumado Waterfall), (in the district of the same name).
Casa da Câmara e Cadeia, Praça de Minas Gerais. In colonial times, this building housed offices of public officials, the city council, and the jail. At other times in its history, it has held a hospital, a butcher shop, and various other things.
Gruta da Nossa Senhora da Lapa (Cave of Our Lady of Lapa), at the end of Rua da Lapa (in a small district a few kilometers north of the main town).
Rua Direita. The oldest and best-preserved houses of the town line this beautiful street, the second oldest street in town. Some highlights include the Casa do Barão de Pontal, (former state governor's house), the Casa Setecentista, (a 18th-century archive building), and the house of poet Alphonsus de Guimarães, now containing a small museum dedicated to his work. The museum is open Tues-Sat 12pm-6pm and Sundays 9am-3pm.
Museu Arquidiocesano de Arte Sacra (Museum of Sacred Art of the Archdiocese), Rua Frei Durão - Centro. Tues-Fri 8:30am-12pm and 1:30pm-5pm. Weekends and holidays 8:30am-2pm. Installed in a colonial building whose construction began in 1770, this is one of Brazil's best sacred art museums, with over two thousand objects, including a golden reliquary considered to be the richest in the state and second in Brazil. The collection includes works in soapstone, porcelain and wood, Portuguese paintings, paintings by Ataíde, and many other objects.R$5.
Museu da Música de Mariana (Mariana Music Museum), Rua Cônego Amando, 161 - Centro, ☎ 31 3557-2778, . Tues-Sat 8:30am-11:30am and 1:30pm-6pm. Located inside the former Palácio dos Bispos, the old Bishop's Palace. Its permanent exhibit includes a hands-on music display, and a collection which contains scores, documents, and other printed material from the 1700s forward. Free.
Museu do Livro (Book Museum), Cônego Amando nº 161 - Centro, ☎ 31 3557-2778 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Tues-Sat 8:30am-11:30am and 1:30pm-6pm, Sundays 8:30am-12pm. Houses many rare books from the 18th century, including a number of volumes related to the Inconfidência Mineira. If you cannot read Portuguese, you might give this one a pass.
Igreja de São Pedro dos Clérigos
Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Assunção (Catedral da Sé), Praça da Sé. Tues-Sun 8am-5pm. The city's largest and most important church was constructed between 1709 and 1750. Many famous artists contributed to its construction, including Aleijadinho, his father, and Manuel da Costa Ataíde. On Fridays at 11am and Sundays at 12:15pm, concerts are given on the beautiful German organ which was built in 1701.R$2; R$7 for concert times.
Igreja da Arquiconfraria, Rua Dom Silvério - Centro. Mon-Fri 8am-12pm and 1:30pm-5pm, Saturdays 9am-11am. Constructed in 1784, this church has a uniquely simple design compared to the many baroque churches typically built in the region in that era.R$1.
Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Glória.
Igreja de Nossa Senhora das Mercês, Rua das Mercês - Centro. This church has a rather plain outward appearance but houses some of the most revered artwork in town, a beautiful series of wood carvings decorated in gold, made by an unknown artist. The church is currently undergoing restoration.
Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário, Rua Monsenhor Horta - Rosário, ☎ 31 3557-1179. Mon-Fri 10am-5pm. This 1752 has elaborately-decorated altars. The painting on the chapel ceiling is particularly well-preserved.R$1.
Igreja de Santo Antônio. Oldest church in the city.
Igreja São Francisco de Assis, Praça de Minas Gerais - Centro. Daily 8am-12pm and 1pm-5pm. Constructed between 1763 and 1794 and decorated by a number of different painters including Manuel da Costa Ataíde, who is buried here. The medallion above the doorway is attributed to Aleijadinho.R$2.
Igreja de São Pedro dos Clérigos, Rua Dom Silvério - Colina de São Pedro. A very attractive church designed by Antônio Ferreira Calheiros, who also designed the Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário in Ouro Preto. Construction began in 1752 but the church was never really finished.R$1.
Sanctuário Nossa Senhora do Carmo, Praça de Minas Gerais. 8am-12pm and 1pm-5pm daily. This 1784 church is the only one in town with cylindrical towers. Part of the main nave was destroyed by fire in 1999.Donations accepted.
Seminário Maior São José, Praça Dom Benevides - São José (Chácara), ☎ 31 3557-1140. Beautiful building designed in neo-colonial style. There is also a charming chapel with interesting mosaics. Visits must be arranged by telephone in advance.
Pan for gold - Off of Rua Rosário Velho along the creek, people still pan for gold in much the same way they have for centuries.
July 16 - On the anniversary of the city's founding, the state governor comes to spend the day in Mariana, and the city relives the days when it was the grand capital of Minas Gerais.
Aventura Minas Radical, Rua Eugênio Eduardo Rapallo, 192- Passagem de Mariana, ☎ 3557-5278 or 9619-6801, . Tour agency that provides for a wide range of activities including ecological treks, rappelling, canyonning, and paintball.
Eco Adventure Mariana, ☎ 3558-1417 or 8828-0355. Specializing in ecotourism and environmental education, this agency offers outings on foot or in Jeeps which span the region, including Ouro Preto and all the waterfalls of the outlying districts.