The town of Diamantina rises up the side of a steep valley with streets that follow the natural topography. Its Historic Center recalls the exploits of diamond prospectors in the 18th century and is a well-preserved example of Brazilian Baroque architecture.
Historic Center of the Town of Diamantina
The town of Diamantina rises 150 m (500 ft) up the side of a steep valley in the heart of the arid and rocky mountains of the Espinhaço Range in northeast Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Diamantina is located 292 km (181 mi) almost directly north of the state capital, Belo Horizonte, in a mountainous area. The elevation of the town is 1,114 m (3,655 ft).
The colonial village is set like a jewel in a necklace of inhospitable rocky mountains in the northeast of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. The Portuguese inspired architectural patterns and urban outline of the Historic Center of Diamantina remains well preserved.
Arraial do Tijuco (as Diamantina was first called) was built during the colonial era in the early 18th century. As its name suggests, Diamantina was a center of diamond mining in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Historic Center recalls the exploits of diamond prospectors in the 18th century and testifies to the triumph of human cultural and artistic endeavor over the environment. With winding and uneven streets that follow the natural topography, it is a well-preserved example of Brazilian Baroque architecture.
The Baroque architecture differs from that of other Brazilian towns in that it is of wood. It is distinguished by its geometry and details, indicating transference on a modest scale of Portuguese architectural features.
Churches have similar colors and textures as civil buildings, and most have only one tower. The regularly aligned 18th and 19th century semi-detached houses with one or two floors are painted in bright colors on a white ground, and contrast with the grey flagstone paving of the streets.
The Historic Center of Diamantina testifies to the conquest of Brazil’s interior regions, illustrating how explorers, diamond prospectors, and representatives of the Portuguese Crown forged an original culture in the 18th century, adapting their origins to the realities of the Americas.