Fodor's Expert Review Santuário de Bom Jesus do Matosinho
Dominating the small Gold Town of Congonhas do Campo is the crowning effort of renowned sculptor Aleijadinho: the hilltop pilgrimage church Basílica Bom Jesus do Matosinho. Built in 1757, it's the focus of great processions during Holy Week. At the churchyard entrance are Aleijadinho's 12 life-size Old Testament prophets carved in soapstone, one of the greatest works of art from the baroque period. The prophets appear caught in movement, and every facial expression is unforgettable. Leading up to the church on the sloping hillside are six chapels, each containing a scene of the stations of the cross. The 66 figures in this remarkable procession were carved in cedar by Aleijadinho and painted by Manuel da Costa Ataíde and Francisco Xavier Carneiro.
Congonhas is about 50 km (31 miles) west of Mariana; take BR 356 to MG 440 to MG 030, then go north on BR 040. This is also a fairly easy trip by bus or car from Belo Horizonte (94 km/58 miles) or Tiradentes (130 km/81 miles).