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We went to Ouro Preto to see the churches, and there was no shortage of them. There are no photos from inside the churches, however, since photography is prohibited inside all of them and they seemed to be serious about it. I thought it was a bit lame, but complied.

All the churches in Ouro Preto were constructed in 18th century in a similar style, apparently known as “barroco mineiro.” The later ones were constructed with participation of a famous Brazilian sculptor commonly known as “Aleijadinho” – “the little cripple”. (Aleijadinho developed a degenerative condition after 40, progressively losing control of his hands, but continued working, tying tools to his arms.) The other sculptors and architects of Ouro Preto churches seem to always be described by their relation to Aleijadinho – “this church was built by the father of Aleijadinho,” “this altar was constructed by the teacher of Aleijadinho,” etc. Sort of like “six degrees of Aleijadinho.”

Apart from architect’s relation to Aleijadinho, the most important piece of trivia about each church is the number of kilograms of gold used in its construction. The amount of gold and the aleijadinhoness of the church are inversely related, since at the times of Aleijadinho the gold was already running out. The less gilted Aleijadinho buildings are located at the center of the town, while the more guilted pre-Aleijadinho churches are on the two ends of the town.

Aleijadinho’s participation in the construction of the church is often marked with his signature monkey-lion sculptures. Those creatures roughly look like lions, but their faces are strangely monkey-like. As I understand, those strange sculptures were not meant to represent Aleijadinho’s vision of the future of genetic engineering, but simply reflected the fact that he had never seen a lion in his life.