Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Polis in the South American Pyrenees


The top of Piri's tile
View of the successive roofs around Rua do Rosário
shadows of faith
Spotlight casts shadows of the faithful against the Church of Nª Srª do Rosário
Golden piri
Piri lighting in golden tones that match the Gold Cycle that gave rise to the city
T-shirts against naked trunks
A peladinha on the edge of the Rio das Almas
Piri landscape
Girlfriends travel u
work jewelry
The golden sunset of Pirenópolis
Western Brazilian
Horsemen cross the Ponte do Carmo, over the Rio das Almas, the river from which the gold that financed Pirenópolis was extracted.
path of faith
Resident drives a carriage in front of the church of Nª Srª do Rosário
Paepalanthus or Caliandra
Chris in the workshop
Facade & Buritis
The façade of the church of Nª Srª do Rosário accompanied by its buritis palm trees
Nª Srª Rosário Church-Pirenópolis-Goiás-Brasi
Store-in-house-colonial-Pirenópolis-Goiás-Brazil
Portuguese roofs of Pirenópolis
Pirenópolis house as seen from the top of one of the towers of the church of Nª Srª do Rosário.
Palm trees above the Casario
Huge buritis seem to watch over the life of Pirenópolis.
horse bath
Boys and some horses bathe in the Almas river, right next to the Carmo bridge.
Of service
Babilónia Farm cooks prepare a meal
In full Petrocity
Guides enter the City of Stone
Mines of Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Meia Ponte were erected by Portuguese pioneers, in the peak of the Gold Cycle. Out of nostalgia, probably Catalan emigrants called the mountains around the Pyrenees. In 1890, already in an era of independence and countless Hellenizations of its cities, Brazilians named this colonial city Pirenópolis.

Some of the many days in Pirenópolis, we spent them staying in a hotel installed on the slope opposite the old center. It is from the privileged viewpoint of its terraces that we admire the centuries-old houses.

From there, we can better understand how it has adapted to the verdant mountain range of the Pyrenees, how it has intruded and integrated into the tropical vegetation: in buritis, coconut trees, tamarinds.

The symbiosis of its history with the mountains and the immense Cerrado around it explains, in fact, why an exotic pasture is part of local life, with an emphasis on the exuberant, elusive and always busy toucans. From time to time, these also climbing birds fly over us at great speed, above streets, alleys and avenues delimited by one-story houses and a few mansions.

Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário and houses of Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

The church of Pirenópolis, of Nª Srª do Rosário, stands out from the colonial houses and from the vegetation that surrounds Pirenópolis.

Colonial Houses and Providential Nature

In Piri, buildings have white walls. They have colored door and window frames, covered with Portuguese tile, part of them still molded on the thighs of the slaves. Whether they are homes or not, almost all the constructions were financed by the gold extracted from the Almas river and the surrounding basin.

The dry season in the state of Goiás and the immense Brazilian Central Plateau had been in effect for over a month. Day after day, we walked to the center of Pirenópolis under a blue sky, here and there, dotted with stray skeins of cloudiness.

We went down Carmo Street. We crossed the old bridge of the same name, still made of red and white wood, advertised by Parisian lamps. From those elegant lamps that, among the proceeds of gold, diamonds and coffee, came to light up the wealthy Brazilian towns.

Riders cross the Ponte do Carmo, Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

Horsemen cross the Ponte do Carmo, over the Rio das Almas, the river from which the gold that financed Pirenópolis was extracted.

From here to there, with an eye on the greenish flow of Almas, we can see how, in Pirenópolis, times have merged in a harmonious way. In the middle of the long season Feast of the Holy Spirit site – one of the most exuberant on the face of the earth – we are forced to give way to caravans of horsemen dressed in the equestrian fashion of two or three centuries ago.

On the other side of Almas, already in the middle of Avenida Beira-Rio, we come across with a brave little peladinha: t-shirts against naked trunks, on the irregular skin opposite Beco da Cadeia.

Peladinha in Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

A peladinha on the edge of the Rio das Almas

The Religious and Social Core of the Church of Nª Srª do Rosário

We go to Rua do Rosário, the city's way of faith that leads to the Church of Nª Senhora do Rosário, the first and largest religious building in the State of Goiás.

This church was built between 1732 and 1736, at the height of gold abundance. It was presented with such sumptuousness that, considering the parameters of the region, it began to be seen as a veritable cathedral.

Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário, Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

The façade of the church of Nª Srª do Rosário accompanied by its buritis palm trees

It marked – as it still does – the geographical and social center of the city, to which the divine duo of large buritis palm trees that almost form part of the façade contribute.

There we see the masts almost as high as the buritis that bear the banners of the Feast of the Holy Spirit. There, masses after masses are held, weddings, baptisms, communions, musical rehearsals and many other events.

There we admire the spontaneous theater of the shadows of believers who watched a distant firework. Between the floodlights and the white walls of the church, and that of the participants in an eminent procession that soon disappears into the resplendent gold, something extraterrestrial, of the nave.

Shadow of believers from Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

Spotlight casts shadows of the faithful against the Church of Nª Srª do Rosário

Born of the gold diverted to the Goyás

 The village that gave rise to today's blessed Pirenópolis resulted from the determination of Portuguese pioneers: Amaro Leite, Urbano do Couto Menezes, this one, companion of Bartolomeu Bueno da Silva, son of a Portuguese pioneer with the same name.

Bartolomeu Bueno da Silva, father, was the author of so many atrocities committed against the Goyas that this group of indigenous people called him the anhanguera, old devil, in your dialect.

Bartolomeu da Silva – his son – obtained from the governor of the Province of São Paulo the concession of the territory of the goyas around Half-Bridge. This is how the area became known after a flood from the Almas River destroyed half of the bridge that allowed it to cross.

Equine bath in Rio das Almas, Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

Boys and some horses bathe in the Almas river, right next to the Carmo bridge.

The Profitable Gold of Souls

In return, the governor demanded that the gold mines be exploited by the Portuguese. To fulfill it, the anhanguera son - however installed in Vila Boa (today, Goiás Velho)  entrusted Manuel Rodrigues Tomar with founding a camp.

Prospecting followed. Along the Rio das Almas, gold appeared in large quantities. Made millionaires several Portuguese settlers. It financed the expansion of the town of Minas de Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Meia Ponte, and the construction of four churches.

Half Bridge gained an unexpected civilizational boost. And it began to compete with Vila Boa for the status of the wealthiest city in the state of Goiás. That's how it went until 1800.

Golden colonial street in Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

Piri lighting in golden tones that match the Gold Cycle that gave rise to the city

The Inevitable Financial Decline of Pirenópolis

At the turn of the XNUMXth century, gold was already in short supply. The commercial routes of Goiás started to focus on another neighbor, Anápolis. Many of the inhabitants emigrated. Ninety years later, Meia Ponte was renamed Pirenópolis.

Piri only recovered from the doldrums after 1960. First, with the almost messianic construction of Brasília, lacking in raw materials, in particular the abundant quartzite around Pirenópolis. After another twenty years, communities in search of an alternative life have rejuvenated Piri's notoriety. There they attracted migrants and visitors from the new Brazilian capital.

Casario de Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

Pirenópolis house as seen from the top of one of the towers of the church of Nª Srª do Rosário.

Farms and farms surround Pirenópolis with pastures conquered from the cerrado, dotted with cattle, termite mounds and yellow or an unlikely pink ipe.

The Babylonian Story-Producing Farm

On one of our many Pyrepolitan days, we woke up early. We meet with Dª Telma who takes us to her Babilónia farm, the most emblematic in the region, located 24 km from the center of Pirenópolis.

Thus, we emulate the visit program of our well-traveled father of democracy, former president Mário Soares. “If you want to know, I thought he was very nice, sincere, very “down to earth” assures us Dª Telma. “It seemed like one of those people you want to hug. And that's even if he refused a tamarind and passion fruit juice from his Breakfast. One was too bitter, the other too sweet, he said.”

Babilónia Farm cooks prepare a meal

With more than two centuries of history, Fazenda Babilónia was – before changing owners – the sugarcane mill of São Joaquim, one of the largest in Brazil at a time when hundreds of slaves worked there.

The current owners respected the colonial structure and appearance. In 1965, the farm was named Historic Heritage. keep serving the same Breakfast Delicious and varied colonial Goiás served by nostalgic cheeks.

Pirenópolis of the Pyrenees, Cerrado and Cidade de Pedra

New day, new explorations. We met Cristiano Costa, at the time President of the Guias Association, at the CAT - Tourist Service Center.

A proud son of Pirenópolis, Cris is immediately available. In the following times, between walks, walks and logistical solutions, he, his brother Tilapa and Kike Palma – a friend of both – would prove to be instrumental in accompanying the Feast of the Holy Spirit that we carried out. To tell the truth, in much more than what we did in Pirenópolis.

Cris wanted to show us one of his favorite places around Piri. Eager for everything that was new, we immediately joined the challenge. Early the next morning, we were part of a small entourage, joined by colleagues Eduardo and Jorginho.

First aboard a jeep, we enter the Serra dos Pireneus State Park, along a path that runs between the emblematic Morro do Cabeludo and the Três Picos: o Pai (1385m), o Filho and Espírito Santo.

Chuveirinho from the cerrado around Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

Shower detached from the cerrado around Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

More than 50km from Piri, above a thousand meters of altitude, we started to walk among buritis, cacti and showers (paepalanthus, caliandras or evergreens), emblematic plants of the Cerrado, with white flowers that look like drops of water.

The Unexpected City of Pedra do Cerrado

Finally, we find the destination of the journey. The local Stone City is considered one of the largest and most labyrinthine in Brazil. Located beyond the Três Picos, this geological work of art was bequeathed by the erosion of sandstone and quartzite.

Stone City, outskirts of Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

Guides enter the City of Stone

They dictated tests for carbon-14 that began to form about 800 million years ago, beginning in the Pre-Cambrian period. Cidade de Pedra appears in an area of ​​rocky savanna filled with large rock formations, some of which are true jagged pillars that have defied gravity for a long time.

In 1871, who is believed to have been the first man to leave a written description of the place, French physician and naturalist Francois Trigant des Genettes saw much more.

city ​​but not so much

He suggested that the Stone City should be a kind of lost Atlantis, with fortified walls, squares, streets, ruins of statues, temples, theaters and palaces, homes and even tombs. From then onwards, little has changed. With the “city” ahead and plenty of time to contemplate it, we came to the conclusion that the naturalist's imagination was unnatural.

It largely supplanted that of Cris and her colleagues who, from time to time, called our attention to certain familiar forms: the orangutan, the little witch, among many others.

At first, the eccentricity of Cris' Portuguese language amused us. It reminded us of the lines of Urtigão, the famous country character from Brazilian Disney books.

In the image of many of the Goiás without thorough studies, Cris exchanged the ele (Ls) for the erres. But not only. At the same time, he ran over the number agreement left and right. Accordingly, to say “the bicycles”, he said “the bicycles”.

Cristiano Costa at his jewelry studio in Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

Cristiano Costa works in jewelry using natural elements from the Cerrado.

The Prodigious Jewelers of Pirenópolis

Cristiano Costa could lack better opportunities, but never the determination. In addition to guiding outsiders, Cris created jewelry in a handcrafted mini-studio that she had built in the house where she lived with her family.

He even showed us how, with great patience and thoroughness, he combined amethysts, topaz, tourmalines, emeralds, aquamarines – with seeds, metals and other materials.

He was not the only one to do this in Pirenópolis. Lacking other jobs, many Pyrenees became jewelers and design their own works of art.

The best ones end up supplying local stores, those in other parts of Brazil and even abroad. Piri has around a hundred workshops. It employs around 300 artisans, some with their own prodigious styles.

Goldsmith in action in Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

One of the many jewelers in Pirinópolis works a thread.

A period in which the business almost always prospers is the last days of the Feast of the Holy Spirit, when the city ​​cavalcades take place at the local Cavalhódromo: Christian knights against Moors, it doesn't matter if we are in the heart of South America.

Sunset over Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil

The end of the day fully lightens the city's diffuse silhouettes.

The next morning, as happens year after year, the infidels were defeated. The Knights went into sleep mode. Piri returned to live in the absolute peace of Divine Holy Spirit.

Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Ride of Faith

Introduced in 1819 by Portuguese priests, the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo de Pirenópolis it aggregates a complex web of religious and pagan celebrations. It lasts more than 20 days, spent mostly on the saddle.
Pirenópolis, Brazil

Brazilian Crusades

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