A well-kept secret, Goiás Velho (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is quite simply one of the most attractive and best preserved colonial towns in Brazil. Founded in 1726 by fortune-hunting bandeirantes who struck gold in the surrounding hills, over the next century Vila Boa (or “Good Town” as it was originally known) evolved from a rugged mining town into gracious state capital.
With the end of the gold rush and subsequent transfer of the capital to Goiânia, Goiás Velho reverted to a certain languor that still envelops the town and makes it so appealing and restful. Aside from the its architectural treasures (almost completely restored after a devastating 2001 flood), the surrounding countryside beckons with its many waterfalls and trails meandering through the Cerrado. Although the town is small, you could easily spend a few days here just soaking up the tranquil atmosphere.
Goiás Velho is surrounded by the Serra Dourada, a region of hills and forests sprinkled with waterfalls and natural pools. The falls closest to town are Cachoeira Grande, 7 kilometers (4.5 miles) to the east, and the more spectacular Cachoeira das Andorinhas, 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) further. You can easily get to them by hiring a moto-taxi.
Getting to Goiás Velho
Goiás is 320 kilometers (200 miles) from Brasília. However, the city with easiest access is Goiânia, 140 kilometers (87 miles) away. If you’re driving, follow the BR-070 from Brasília to Goiânia, and then take the GO-070. Frequent buses make the 2.5-hour journey from Brasília to Goiânia with Viação Goiania (tel. 62/3242-4400, www.viacaogoiania.com.br). Moreira (tel. 62/3297-1444, www.empresamoreira.com.br) offers service from Goiânia to Goiás Velho.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition