This charming historic town dates back to 1727, when gold was discovered in the riverbed of the Rio das Almas, at the foot of the Serra dos Pireneus. Named for the surrounding mountains, Pirenópolis thrived for a century and then turned into a ghost town when the source of its wealth dried up.
In the 1980s, enchanted with its preserved colonial buildings and the abundance of natural crystals and waterfalls in the surrounding region, latter-day hippies, New Agers, and artists arrived to set up alternative communities, open organic restaurants, and begin producing jewelry and handicrafts.
After it was declared a National Heritage Site in 1989, the town was discovered by Brasilienses (residents of Brasília) and became a favorite getaway where the nation’s powerbrokers could unwind. Although weekends can actually get quite busy, during the week, “Piri” is deliciously tranquil and bucolic.
Getting to Pirenópolis
Pirenópolis is 160 kilometers (99 miles) away from Brasília. Both Viação Goianésia (tel. 61/3233-7891, www.viacaogoainesia.com.br) and Transportes Santo Antônio (tel. 61/3234-3997, www.grupoamaral.com.br) offer daily service from Brasília. In Pirenópolis the rodoviária (Rua Neco Mendonça, tel. 62/3331-1080) is a five-minute walk from the center of town.
If you’re driving from Brasília, take the BR-070, followed by the BR-414 and BR-225.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition