Pampulha

To see the rest of Belo Horizonte’s attractions, you need to head about 20 minutes north of the city center to the planned district of Pampulha. This area was built in the 1940s around an artificial lake, Lagoa da Pampulha, and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016. The project was a collaboration between Oscar Niemeyer and landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, and is considered one of the world’s most important modernist architectural projects. There’s public transportation, but we decided on a BRA$40 taxi ride.

Lagoa da Pampulha in Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Lagoa da Pampulha

The most important piece of the complex, Igreja de São Francisco de Assis, was designed by Niemeyer and is considered Pampulha’s crowning masterpiece. Built in 1943, the design was so controversial the Catholic Church refused to consecrate it until 1959. The church is beautifully decorated with blue and white tile mosaics on the exterior.

Igreja de São Francisco de Assis in Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Igreja de São Francisco de Assis

Igreja de São Francisco de Assis in Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Igreja de São Francisco de Assis

Igreja de São Francisco de Assis in Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Igreja de São Francisco de Assis

Igreja de São Francisco de Assis in Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Igreja de São Francisco de Assis

Estádio Mineirão, opened in 1965, is at the southern end of the lake. It held games for the 2014 World Cup and is the home of Brazilian club Cruzeiro.

Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Estádio Mineirão

Other notable buildings around the lake are the Casa do Baile and the Iate Tênis Clube. If you’re lucky you’ll see a family of capybaras.

Capybara in Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Capybara

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