Page traduced by Fernando P. de Oliveira.
Territorial Extent: 324 km2
Metalurgic Zone e Campo das
|RELIGION AND LABOR|
Circa 1700 a few Portuguese
settled the royal village of Queluz, currently Conselheiro Lafaiete. Some of them set
roots in the place, others moved out in the pursuit of new gold lodes. These were the
beginnings of new camping grounds.Thus, population grew, made up of miners, the first
settlers in the area, gathered at the banks of the Maranhão River.There is controversy as
to the inception of the so called Freguesia of Congonhas.Documentation indicates its
origin as April 3,1745, as well as the year of 1734.
Congonhas did not go through being first a
"vila", but went directly from a district to a municipality. As a district,
established in November 6,1746 it linked Congonhas do Campo to the Jurisdiction of Ouro
Preto. On September 7, 1723 the district was moved from Ouro Preto to Queluz (Conselheiro
Lafaiete). A Decree dated as of December 17, 1938 established the Municipality fo
Congonhas do Campo, later shortened to Congonhas, in 1948.
Feliciano Mendes, a Portuguese citizen, made a religious pledge in order to regain his lost health after years of hard work in the gold mines. Because his request was granted, he began building the Santuary in 1757, on top Maranhão Hill, where he put a rustic cross and swore to dedicate the remainder of his days to the Lord Good Jesus of Matosinhos. Two years later the church nave was completed.
Feliciano used to make pilgrimages in the area
at large, carrying with him a small wooden oratory which contained an image of the Lord
Good Jesus. During those journeys he would collect alms and donations for the construction
of the church. He passed away on September 23,1765, before
- Construction of the Church of Our Lady of Help in the District of Alto Maranhão
|THE CITY MAYORS|
The first two mayors were appointed to office by
the State Government, after emancipation on December 17, 1938. Alberto Teixeira dos Santos
Filho was the first mayor of Congonhas, from 1938
|Congonhas ranks among the 15 cities in Minas
Gerais which collect the most in tax revenues. The main source of said taxes is the ICMS,
generated by companies in the iron ore mining business and by Açominas. At one time it was rated the
first city in per capita income from over 700 municipalities in the State. Congonhas faces
several managerial and financial difficulties at this time. Public debt is in excess of R$
24 million. Public employees have their salaries and wages tardy and City Hall is
"swollen". A "Robin Hood" attitude by State Government has caused
noticeable drop in revenue.
Belonging to the Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN) and until recently produced 100% of all ore utilized in the metallurgy of iron at Volta Redonda. At one time employed about 1500, currently only about 600, worth observing that it is one of the most traditional companies in the area.
Ferteco Mineração S/A
Ferteco Mineração S/A is a German multinational, producing ore of the finest quality. At one time with near 2000 employees, nowadays has a labor force of about 700. Total production is exported
|DESIGNATED BY STATUTES - Historic Architecture Preservation|
Unesco designated Congonhas a
Cultural Memorial for Mankind on December 3, 1985. The efforts, plus keen concerns shown
by Myriam Andrade Ribeiro de Oliveira
for attaining such a status were instrumental, of fundamental importance, due to her
knowledge of Congonhas assets. Thus, she prepared detailed dossier for UNESCO,complete
with a report describing piece by piece all of Congonhas patrimony. Photographs by Claus
Meyer for the book Steps of The Passion were attached to her work. The designation as a
historic preservation site thus met an old aspiration of the people of Congonhas, which
realized how important and necessary it was to preserve its assets, its identifying
cultural heritage, as occurred in 1978. In that year the Rio de Janeiro Museum of Modern
Art had borrowed some images from the "Steps of The Passion" for an exhibit; the
pictures were already packed, put in a truck for transportation to Rio, when the town
folks took to the streets in order to obstruct the shipment. Then again, in 1983 the City
denied Embratur access to the images which were to be flown to New York.
For you who is from BH or are in the area, visiting Congonhas may be a good outing for the weekend. You can come by in the morning and return in the afternoon, if you wish. There are daily buses.