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Page traduced by Fernando P. de Oliveira.


Territorial Extent: 324 km2
Population: 50 thousand inhabitants


Belo Horizonte.....89 Km
Rio de Janeiro.....360 Km
Sao Paulo..........655 Km
Brasilia..............805 Km

Easy transportation, both by means of a highway network (BR-040) and
widetrack railroad of RFFSA. - Closest Sea Port, Rio de Janeiro.

Bus Line BH-Congonhas:

Sandra Transports

Additional information: Prodemge

Metalurgic Zone e Campo das Vertentes (Médio-Paraopeba)
Click an some cities

Consult Area Map at Expedia
Clique aqui


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.

It was given a name that derives from Tupi (main language of the Brazilian indigenous people), meaning "that which sustains" or "that which nourishes": Congoi. The city's name comes from a local plant, abundant at the locale.

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
finishing his church but sure that he had accomplished what he had proposed to do: to fulfill his promise. Thus the works of the Sanctuary were under way, gathering together the very best artisans of the time, such as Maonel da Costa Athayde, Francisco Xavier Carneiro and the Master, Aleijadinho ("The Crippled One").


1746 - Construction of the Church of Our Lady of Help in the District of Alto Maranhão
1757 - February - Feliciano Mendes begins devotional to the Lord Good Jesus of Matosinhos.
1757 - June 21 - Friar Dom Manoel da Cruz, first bishop of Mariana approves and allows construction of the temple.
1765 - September 23 - Death of the Founder Feliciano Mendes - Church under construction.
1776 - Practically finished the interior of the church, Main Chapel:Francisco Lima Cerqueira. Painting:Bernardo Pires da Silva.Tower with bells:Mestre Domingos Antonio Dantas.
1777 - Beginning of the construction of the church plaza:Tomas de Maia Brito.
1779-1782 - Painting of the ceiling:Nepomuceno Castro.
1780 - Beginning of Jubilee; "breve" of Pope Pius VI.
1796 - In Congonhas Aleijadinho signs first receipt of the works of the Steps.
1798 - Aleijadinho signs second receipt of works of the Steps.
1799 - " " third receipt of Steps
1800 - Aleijadinho signs receipt of sculpture of the Prophets (Archives of the Basilica).
1817 - Construction of Saint Joseph's Church
1957 - The Sanctuary of the Lord Good Jesus is made minor Basilica by the Pope Pius XII.
1985 - December 3 - UNESCO grants the city the title of Cultural Memorial for Mankind.


Prefeitura Municipal
Congonhas City Hall

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
to 1944. In 1947 the people went to the polls, electing Nicola Falabela as mayor. Since then, all Congonhas mayors were elected by direct vote and ended their respective terms with only a few exceptions.Jose Theodoro da Cunha came to be mayor for the first time when he replaced Lamartine de Freitas, who had died before completing his term.  Theodoro returns to City Hall in 1967 to stay in office for a brief while. Executive Branch is then passed to Jose Tarcisio de Oliveira Senra. Mayor Sebastiao Mauricio de Carvalho resigns on September 1972 because of Court decision against his statement of accounts regarding the Dom Silverio Foundation.Pascoal Vartuli took over until the end of 1972.Office went to Mauro Hebert Godoy.Other than that, all the mayors of Congonhas finished their

1939 a 1944 - Alberto Teixeira dos Santos Filho
1945 a 1946 - Demerval Francisco Junqueira
1947 a 1950 - Nicola Falabela
1951 a 1954 - Moacir Barbosa
1955 a 1958 - Lamartine de Freitas e José Theodóro da Cunha
1959 a 1962 - Waldir Cunha
1963 a 1966 - Aristides Francisco Junqueira
1967 a 1970 - José Theodoro da Cunha e

                     José Tarcísio de Oliveira Senra
1971 a 1972 - Sebastião Maurício de Carvalho e Pascoal Vartuli
1973 a 1976 - Mauro Herbert Godoy
1977 a 1982 - Altary de Souza Ferreira Junior (PSC)
1983 a 1988 - Gualter Pereira Monteiro (PL)
1988 a 1992 - Arnaldo da Silva Osório (PMDB)
1993 a 1996 - Gualter Pereira Monteiro (PL)
1997 a 2000 - Altary de Souza Ferreira Junior (PSDB)



Altary - Atual prefeito de Congonhas

Altary de Souza Ferreira Junior - Current Mayor

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.

Mineração Casa de Pedra (CSN)
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

World heritage 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.

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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.