Estrada Real

Minas Gerais, Brasil, 2008

Diamantina, town centre

“Estrada Real” is the name of the historical territories in the state of Minas Gerais of Brasil which, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, made up the routes into gold and diamond country. The Portuguese term translates to Royal Road and refers to a set of itineraries assigned by the Crown to the transportation of minerals and goods to the seaports in major coastal towns. Today, these territories are part of a deep cultural inheritance shared by Brasil and Portugal. One of the most important religious festival and tradition is the Easter procession and celebrations held in the town of Ouro Preto, in the heart of this region.

Commissioned by:
Instituto Estrada Real, Belo Horizonte

Thanks to:
Museu do Ouro, Sabará

Ouro Preto, town centre

Belo Horizonte, view over Cristiano Machado avenue, Cidade Nova district (north-east suburbs)

Belo Horizonte, city centre

View over Ouro Preto’s town centre

Students heading to a party. Ouro Preto, like other towns in the interior of Minas Gerais such as Diamantina, has both a sizeable tourism industry and is host to a large university student population. There are several campuses located in the main historical towns and many go to study there. Many of the buildings along the old main streets are now “Repúblicas”, autonomously governed student residential associations.

“Comida Mineira” is the characteristic gastronomy from the state of Minas Gerais. Traditionally, it is slowly cooked in dark soapstone pots.

View from the stage in Sabará’s Municipal Theatre

Display of 18th century gold prospector’s tools in the Museum of Gold in Sabará

Sr. Júlio is one of the artisans who keeps a permanent workspace in Ouro Preto’s handicrafts market.

Tatiana works at her mother’s home decoration and handicrafts store.

Holy Saturday’s night procession in Ouro Preto

Easter Sunday’s procession

Leonardo is an artist and a member of a local association that works to preserve Ouro Preto’s cultural patrimony. Easter Sunday’s procession follows along streets which are decorated with sawdust carpets showing colourful and religious motifs. These are prepared by artisans and volunteers starting from the previous day. The work often goes on overnight until early morning. Residents also help, joining the decoration work or supplying coffee and food to the artisans. Local musicians provide entertainment.