Exploring Pirenópolis’s historical center is easily done on foot. If you notice a glint in the cobblestones it is because they contain quartzite from the surrounding hills. Particularly charming is Rua Direita (or Main Street), which is lined with whitewashed 18th-century mansions, trimmed with green and blue, along with a fetching art deco cinema whose powder blue facade dates back to 1936.
At Praça da Matriz, the Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora do Rosário (7–11 a.m. and 1–5 p.m. Thurs.–Mon., R$1) is Goiás’s oldest church dating back to the early 1730s. Although it was severely damaged as the result of a 2002 fire, it is being restored to its former glory.
Dating back to 1750, the nearby hilltop Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (Rua Bonfim da Serra dos Pireneus) is the town’s only church whose original interior has survived. Inside, the sculpted altars showcase a cedar statue of the Senhor do Bonfim that was transported from Bahia by 260 African slaves.
If you have a car, there are plenty of other attractions in the vicinity. Taking a guided tour or organized excursion is also a good alternative. Drena (Rua Aurora 21, tel. 62/3331-3336, www.drena.tur.br) offers a wide array of ecotours throughout the region as well as cultural and history-themed outings and adventure sports such as rappelling, canyoneering, and white-water rafting.
Haras Cavalos de Luz (Estrada do Bonsucesso Km 2, tel. 62/3331-1807) organizes guided excursions on horseback, including nocturnal outings when the moon is full.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition