Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo in Brazil

Shutterstock / David DavisThe inland state of Minas Gerais ('General Mines'), was once described as having a heart of gold and a breast of iron. The state was founded solely to provide precious metals for the imperial coffers. As the gold-mining camps grew and prospered they became towns of little cobbled streets crowned with opulent Manueline churches. Many of the towns are well preserved and these, and the rugged forested hills around them, are the principal reasons to visit.

Espírito Santo, immediately to the east of Minas, is less visited. But although its coastline is not as pretty as that of Bahia to its north, it is far less developed. Beaches here can be almost deserted but for the visiting turtles. The state's interior is rugged, swathed in coffee and eucalyptus and dotted with giant granite rocks even larger than those to the south in Rio de Janeiro. The most famous and striking is Pedra Azul, which is on the main highway between Espírito Santo and Minas.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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