Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas

Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas 400
Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas
Photo by: geoglauco, Creative Commons

The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas in Brazil was built in the 2nd century. It includes a church with a luxurious, ornate, Italian-inspired interior design, including an outdoor staircase adorned with beautiful statues of the prophets; and 7 chapels depicting the seven Stations of the Cross.

The small chapels and the church are very picturesque. They are located on a sheer hill, peeking above the other edifices in the neighbourhood. Each of the seven statues of the prophets is very unique, possessing its own posture and character.

The story behind this World Heritage Site is about two extraordinary men, Feliciano Mendes, the Portuguese immigrant and Aleijadhino, the sculptor. With Aleijadhino being the artist and Mendes being the fundraiser, they built a set of architectural monuments within the city of Congonhas. These monuments were then considered the greatest of Brazilian art.

The Sactuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas is located in the historical Brazilian city of Congonhas, also called Congonhas do Campo. The city is found in the state of the Minas Gerais. It is located ninety kilometres (fifty-six miles) southwards the Belo Horizonte, which is the capital state of the Minas gerais, near the highway of BR-040. Congonhas has a populace of fifty thousand.

The city of Congonhas actually became well-known for the sanctuary and the linked statues which were ordered by Feliciano Mendes, the Portugese adventurer, in the eighteenth century. It was made by Aleijadhino, who is among the greatest artists of baroque art throughout the world. The soapstone statues of the prophets of the Old Testament circling the terrace are believed to be one of his best works. In the year 1985, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) awarded the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas a title of being one of the World Heritage Sites.

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