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Belo Horizonte

Written by Sebastien on 11 April 2013. Posted in Cities

Belo Horizonte is the capital of the Brazilian state Minas Gerais. It's history can be traced back in the 18th century, but the actual city was only built in 1890s with the declared purpose to serve as capital of the state. It was the second designed city in Brazil and it was at first named Cidade de Minas. Its name changed to Belo Horizonte in 1906 when the economy of the city was boosted due to expansion of the industrial sector, services and commerce as well. In the beginning, workers were not allowed to live in the city, but only in peripheral areas. The growth in the city’s population determined the officials to build a new neighborhood in 1940s. Given the fact that Belo Horizonte is a relatively new city, its buildings are a mix of modern and classic architecture.

Belo Horizonte is placed on the main Brazilian economic axis and various multinational companies, including Google, have offices here. The economy of the city used to be based on industry and mining, but the sector service grew a lot lately and nowadays it counts for 85% of the economy of Belo Horizonte. The remaining industry is centered on the production of steel, textiles and automobiles. Besides multinational companies like Toshiba, Arcelor or FIAT, the city is also home to numerous small businesess in the field of informatics and biotechnology. The sector of business tourism is very important for the city officials and they plan to develop it.

Even though Belo Horizonte is not one of the most important tourist destinations in Brazil, there are several interesting museums and landmarks which can be visited. The National History Museum and Botanical Garden comprises a collection of folk art items and a large green area allowing visitors to have a multidisciplinary experience in the nature. Palacio des Artes is a cultural complex housing art galleries, theaters, movie theaters, photo galleries and a coffee shop. It was opened in the 70s and it is the largest such complex in the state. Pampulha Art Museum is located in a building which once was the Pampulha Casino and it is integrated in the Pampulha Architectural Complex. It was the first building designed by Oscar Niemeyer.

Most of the cultural landmarks of Belo Horizonte are located in the Pampulha district, a place where tourists can admire the contemporary Brazilian architecture. This is where the largest stadium in the world can be found (Mineirao). Other notable constructions include the buildings in the campus of the Universidad Federal de Minas Gerasi, the Sao Francisco de Assis Church, the headquarters of various businesses and the Mesbla and Niemeyer buildings.  Important landmarks such as the Station Square, the Church of Sao Jose, Sete de Setembro Square, Lourdes Basilica, Liberty Square and Liberty Palace, Pope’s Square, Mangabeiras Park and many others are located all around the city.

Every other year Belo Horizonte hosts an international theatre festival organized by the city hall. Artists from all over the world come to the city during the festival which includes street and stage performances, seminaries and workshops.

Belo Horizonte is easily reachable in either touristic or business purposes because it is served by three airports and it is connected with the rest of the state and with other regions by numerous highways. One of the three airports, Confins International Airport is dedicated to both international and domestic traffic. Belo Horizonte is connected with Rio de Janeiro through BR-040 and with Sao Paolo through BR-131. Other highways and minor roads connect the city with capitals of other states.

Football is a very popular sport in Brazil and Belo Horizonte makes no exception. The city has three professional football clubs and one of the largest stadiums in the world. Belo Horizonte is going to host six matches in the 2014 World Cup.

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