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An update from Evaneos

Congonhas (Brazil)

Practical information about Congonhas

  • Place or Religious Monument
  • Unesco World Heritage
  • Off the beaten track
3 / 5 - 2 reviews
How to get there
1hr by road from Ouro Preto
When to go
All year round
Minimum stay
Half a day

Reviews of Congonhas

Travel writer
32 travel articles

Congonhas is home to one of Brazil's pride and joys - the Senhor Bom Jesus de Matosinho Basilica.

My suggestion:
I suggest you base yourself at Ouro Preto, 60km away, as Congonhas has fewer amenities. You can easily do a day trip to the town.

So, if you're spending a few days at Ouro Preto, make sure you pay Congonhas a call. Even if it's only to see the 18th Century Senhor Bom Jesus de Matosinho Basilica. The basilica was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. 

The first thing that impressed me was its size. From the outside you'll see a cruciform structure, divided into six chapels, each leading off from a paved central aisle, decorated with scenes from the Passion of Christ that are carved out of solid wood. They were sculpted by the Brazlian Master, Aleijadinho and painted by his contemporary, Alaide. And above you, soap stone statues of the prophets line a staircase that leads to the basilica itself. I was particularly impressed by the precision of Aleijadinho's work - you'll think his sculptures are alive.

On the other hand, the interieur is not as spectacular and I found the outside of the building to be its crowning glory. As for the rest of the town...don't waste too much time here, as there are better things to see in surrounding areas; Mariana, Ouro Preto, Tiradentes, Inhotim amongst others.

Adeline Haverland Travel writer
21 travel articles

Rococo art lovers will be enthralled by the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos, registered on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1985. If you are visiting Minas Gerais state, you have to see the Twelve Prophets.

My suggestion:
From the sanctuary, do not hesitate to continue a little farther up, to the Matriz Nossa Senhora da Conceição church. Situated atop a hill, this church offers the best view of the sanctuary.

Contrary to other towns in the area, Congonhas is a city whose modern architecture is rather austere . At first, I was disappointed by Congonhas, situated between Ouro Preto and Tiradentes, far from the paved streets and colourful houses of the other colonial towns.

My disappointment vanished at the sight of the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos. Perched on a hilltop, the sanctuary dominates the city. If you're out and about in really hot weather, you will find meandering through the six chapels that make up the Stations of the Cross, refreshing.

The highlight of my visit was discovering the Twelve Prophets, a set of soapstone sculptures in the forecourt. Before stepping into the sanctuary, these works by the artist Aleijadinho, created with stunning precision, really moved me. Considering the remarkable exterior of the sanctuary, I found the interior somewhat disappointing.

View of the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos from the forecourt