The main points of interest in Belo Horizonte lie typically at Praça da Liberdade in the city center. The plaza is filled with trees, plants, and fountains and is a nice place to sit and relax.
Around the plaza you will find several impressive buildings dating back to the early 20th century. Some of them serve as museums but were government buildings in the past. The Museu das Minas e do Metal (Museum of Mines and Metal) is located in the former Secretary of Education building, constructed in 1895. The Memorial Vale is a museum presenting the history of Minas Gerais and is housed in the former Treasury Building, built in 1897. Both museums are open daily except Mondays and admission is free.
On the south end is Palácio da Liberdade, which served as the government offices for Minas Gerais for several years beginning in 1897. It’s now used for ceremonies.
A curvaceous 1954 apartment building by renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer also sits on the plaza. The building takes Niemeyer’s name, Edifício Niemeyer. It sticks out like a sore thumb.
Just south of the plaza are a few more historic buildings. Palacete Dantas was designed to be a mansion for the Dantas family in 1915. In 1926 it became the Club Central and was later used as a government building. Connected to Palacete Dantas is Sobrado Narbona, home to the Secretary of Culture. Finally, there’s Palácio Cristo Rei, the home of the Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte.
A few blocks north of the plaza is the Museu Mineiro. You can find some colonial artifacts and pieces of religious art inside. Nearby is the Basílica Nossa Senhora de Lourdes, a beautiful Gothic Revival church. There’s also Academia Mineira de Letras, a literary academy founded in 1909.