Once you arrive in the city, grab a map in the Tourist Information Center. Check out what I visited:
RUA DA DIREITA has the main colonial houses, churches and museums.
IGREJA DE SÃO PEDRO DOS CLÉRIGOS is the best place to visit, and a great walk. Go up the tower to see the city from the top.
CATEDRAL DA SÉ was the first cathedral in Minas and has a famous organ inside.
PRAÇA MINAS GERAIS is the main tourist point, surrounded by 3 famous buildings: SANTUÁRIO DE N. SRA. DO CARMO, IGREJA SÃO FRANCISCO DE ASSIS and the ANTIGA CASA DE CÂMARA E CADEIA – the only one I visited, it is a museum with free admission.
I went there on a Monday, when all museums are closed. No problem, I am much more interested in the architecture and walking around wondering how it was like to live in the old days than seeing sacred and Baroque art. The ones who enjoy art should choose another day to visit Mariana.
My favorite tour was MINA DA PASSAGEM, the biggest gold mine in the world opened for visitation. The underground galleries can reach 315m long and 120 deep, and you go down on a trolley. There is no more gold there, but since its foundation in the early 18th century, about 35 tons of gold were removed. What remains now are a few tools, the humidity and a crystal clear lake used for professional diving.
Waiting for the trolley to go back to the surface was nothing pleasant, it took too long because there was no one else to go down. The scariest part was sitting on the first row, where there is no protection and I had to hold onto the side bars. I kept looking down and had the feeling I would fly off any moment. Everything was fine, a little adventure is good. After all, this travel was too peaceful.