Stone Town, Goiás, Brazil

A City of Stone. Precious.

View of Cerrado
the stone city
Buritis in Sauces II
Buritis in Sauces
Opportunist Buritizeiro
Santa Maria Waterfall
Sudden Gallop
Vegetable Triumph
Canyon Cactus
Stone City inside
Cactus with a View
Quartzite vs Cerrado
Chuveirinho and Semper-Viva
Erosive Caprice II
Handful of Buritis
Erosive Caprice
Lázaro Waterfall
Cloud above Stone
Cerrado Flower
A lithic vastness emerges from the cerrado around Pirenópolis and the heart of the Brazilian state of Goiás. With almost 600 hectares and even more millions of years old, it brings together countless capricious and labyrinthine ruiniform formations. Anyone who visits it will be lost in wonder.

The Dragões road remains so rough and irregular that, behind the wheel of the jeep, Eduardo drives at around 30km/h, almost never faster than that.

We took the opportunity to enjoy the Cerrado scenery.

The isolated farms, the bright ipês trees, the buritis trees that signal water, even if it is underground, and the cattle scattered in the surrounding meadows.

There are plenty of streams and waterfalls.

We have advanced, in fact, among several.

On the verge of the Dragons, the road turns towards the destination that earned it its name. We almost gave in to temptation. We resist.

Lacking streams or permanent watercourses – the closest would be the Maneta stream that runs some distance away – in the middle of the dry season in the region, the unusual place we were aiming for would quickly heat up and become abrasive. Cristiano Costa, Eduardo and Jorginho knew it.

The Geological Amazement of Stone Town

About 50km from Pirenópolis, 140km west of BrasiliaFinally, we come across the geological eccentricity that moved us, the Cidade de Pedra, located well above 1000 meters of altitude, instead of the almost 800 from which we had started.

Cristiano Costa invites us to follow him. From the meadow lining, of rough bushes and scattered trees, emerges a profusion of pinnacles of stratified rock, grey, brown, here and there, darkened, with a dominant ocher or stained with lichens.

Some pinnacles are over 40 meters high. Cidade de Pedra occupies well over 6km2. It is almost entirely made of quartzite, with origins estimated in the Neoproterozoic period of the Earth, somewhere between 1000 million and 540 million years ago.

From then on, worn and eroded without respite.

Its highest point and that of the Serra de São Gonçalo of which it forms part is Pico do Maneta. It is at the top of one of these rock formations, at 1305 meters.

The Largest of Several Stone Towns in Brazil

We must emphasize that there are, in the state of Goiás and, above all, in central Brazil, other landscapes defined as Cidade de Pedra, with comparable geology, fauna and flora. There are, for example, the Sete Cidades in the state of Piaui.

E Vila Velha, the main tourist attraction in Ponta Grossa, in the interior of Paraná. In the vicinity of Goiás (Old), land of Cora CoralineAt Serra Dourada neighbor, we had the opportunity to explore one of the closest counterparts.

After a few kilometers following Cris's footsteps, we already concluded that the two we knew were falling short. Several measurements had, in fact, proven that Cidade da Pedra da Serra de São Gonçalo was the largest in immense Brazil.

Moments later, we realized why it remained so labyrinthine, inhospitable and wild.

Stone Town is not a place anyone can go without getting lost. Among the rocks, the telephone signal also disappears.

What appears frequently, especially in the hotter and drier months, are snakes, several of which are venomous: rattlesnakes, spotted pit vipers, coral snakes and many more.

During study expeditions, footprints of deer and also of a large feline, possibly a puma, were identified. Cristiano confirms that jaguars and even a black one also patrol the region.

Stone City and its Ruiniform and Labyrinthine Formations

Cris has been exploring Cidade de Pedra since 2003.

Keep in memory your elusive trails and whims. He has become accustomed to associating the trails with peculiar ruiniform formations, when the area is lithic, there are always them.

Cris reveals to us a clear case of “elephant” pareidolia.

We passed through an “orangutan” formation, a “witch”, a “dolphin” and an “Indian”.

Some, we identify them straight away. Others require your time for contemplation and imaginative effort.

Without disregarding the successive erosive sculptures, we are, above all, dazzled by the immensity and strangeness of the Stone City as a whole.

The different agglomerations unfold into streets, avenues (gorges), squares and neighborhoods that the Cerrado seeks, in vain, to supplant.

The Cerrado that has long decorated the Stone Town

Different types of plants make up the local biome:

veloziaceas of which the predominant and prehistoric vellozia, locally known as canela-d'ema, which can reach six meters in height, with an exuberant blue, lilac and yellow flower, which produces therapeutic teas and is said to be even edible.

They also abound eriocaulaceas e bromeliads. In terms of color, several bromeliads overshadow the others.

A type of eriocaulacea, Standing out more for its shape than its color and which has become the plant symbol of the Cerrado, it appears frequently.

This is the evergreen (paepalanthus), also called shower head due to the obvious similarity.

As expected, in Brazil, it is also referred to by a series of other exotic terms: pepalanto, palipalan and capipoatinga.

Between canelas d'ema, chuveirinhos, cacti and ruiniform monuments, we covered the more than 9 km of the route that crossed the heart of the Stone City. With successive stops for photographs and explanations, we do it in four hours.

Until the water we were carrying was almost gone and the sun and dryness started to dehydrate us.

A City Shrouded in Mystery and Controversy

We no longer needed confirmation, but we felt on our skin and in our lungs the harshness and inclemency of that summer and tropical version of the Stone City, which is why, despite the name, throughout time, it never welcomed anyone, not even a human structure that were.

And yet, even though it was declared a geosite and, on paper, protected, until twenty or so years ago, Cidade de Pedra was part of a registered farm.

From time to time, heads of cattle grazing, belonging to farmers in the region, are still seen in its arteries and rock gardens.

No matter how amazing and grand it may have been, the Stone City hardly remained hidden for long.

Des Genettes and his Untenable Alleged Discovery

Testimonies and records abound on the Internet that a Frenchman who became Brazilian, Francisco Henrique Raimundo Trigant Des Genettes, a doctor, prospector, naturalist, politician, revolutionary, among other talents and occupations, discovered it.

After his widowhood, he also became a priest.

An author named Paulo Bertran, in particular, has disclosed that des Genettes was the discoverer of the City of Stones and the author of the manuscript “Description of the Lost City of the Pyrenees Mountains of the Goyaz Province”, supposedly sent, in 1871, to the Brazilian Historical and Geographical Institute (IHGB) and even to the Emperor D. Pedro II.

D. Pedro II, was a serious fan of archeology. That same year, he had traveled to Egypt and dedicated himself to exploring the country of the Pharaohs.

Still according to Paulo Bertran, des Genettes stated, in his writing, “having discovered in the Pyrenean Mountains the Lost City of the Atlanteans, covering a large expanse of land, with walls for fortifications, wide streets and squares, along which he observed “very eroded” ruins of statues, gigantic temples, theaters, palaces, residences and tombs…"

Such a description makes no sense and we classify it as such to remain diplomatic.

If Des Genettes was as studious and erudite as he became in History and as Paulo Bertran describes him – even giving due allowance to the chronological and geographical lag of the Brazilian interior – when he came across rock formations, devoid of archaeological remains, it was only out of delirium malaria patient would conclude that they were ruins of human constructions.

Worse still, of a “lost city of the Atlanteans”.

On the other hand, the IHGB has already clarified that it does not have such a writing by Des Genettes, nor any relating to Cidade das Pedras de Goiás.

The Gold and Bandeirante Genesis of “neighboring” Pirenópolis

We add facts and logic that prevent the City of Stones from only being discovered in 1871.

The precursor village of Pirenópolis It was the mining camp of Meia Ponte, founded in 1727 by Manoel Rodrigues de Tomás, in connection with the famous bandeirante Anhanguera.

Based on this camp, the bandeirantes sought new deposits of gold, which were abundant in the region. Now, Cidade das Pedras is less than 50km away from where Meia Ponte emerged.

How can it be explained that, for almost 150 years and even in the years before the arraial - in a context of obsessive search for the precious metal, no Portuguese colonist, no miner, bandeirante, servants and even the natives with whom they interacted, came across a extraterrestrial landscape measuring 6 to 12 km2 extension?

As far as we were concerned, after 4 hours of exploration, we were exhausted and satisfied.

We agreed to shorten our return, so that we still passed by Morro do Cabeludo, another famous elevation in the area, the most graphic in the Serra dos Pireneus, in the image of Cidade das Pedras, made of quartzite.

In the following days, as a form of therapy, we enjoyed bathing in some of the waterfalls and immaculate lagoons around Piri.

That of Lázaro, that of Santa Maria, and others.

How to go:

Book the Lisbon – Brasília flight with TAP: for from €820. From Brasília, you can travel by rental car or bus to Pirenópolis, 2h30 by car, up to 4h by bus.

Organize your expedition to Cidade das Pedras with the most experienced guide, Cristiano Costa, from Pirenópolis,

WhatsApp: +55 62 991 887 789.

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