The hope brought by the pandemic finally to the level of control, with the resumption of tourism and the announcement of new projects to revitalize the devastated sector in the most restrictive period of the health crisis, leads to the reopening of routes of great cultural life. and historical significance in Minas. Among them is the Caminho do Comrcio, which is 210 years old and was created to facilitate communication between Gerais and Rio de Janeiro and ensure a faster and more economical supply of the court.
The importance of the old supply route of the Portuguese court and the new cultural route with its great opportunities and attractions has attracted the attention of historians Marcos Paulo de Sousa Miranda, author of several books, such as the recently published Introduction to Law. to the heritage of Brazilian culture” – and Rodrigo Magales, who have been exploring this route for more than 10 years. At the end of last year in Bom Jardim de Minas, in the south of the state, during the celebrations of the 210th anniversary of the establishment of the Caminho do Comércio, the “Historical Studies of the Caminho do Comércio – Commemorative Edition of the Route” was launched, a work that can guide those who are interested in continuing their journey.
According to the authors, the Camino Novo da Estrada Real, discovered at the beginning of the 18th century by Garcia Rodríguez Paez (sertanista, died in 1738), was very long and did not directly connect Rio de Janeiro with the main food production area. Minas Gerais, regions of the South and Campo das Vertentes, becoming obsolete and inadequate at the beginning of the 19th century.
food and tools
According to the studies of Sousa Miranda and Magalles, in a scenario completed in 1816, the drovers set off from Comarca do Rio das Mortes, headquartered in Sau Jou del Rey, to Campo das Vertentes, but covered the vast expanse of Minas, leading bulls, pigs, bacon, chickens and cheeses. On their way back from Rio de Janeiro they brought salt, oil, wine, vinegar, codfish, lamps, tools and glass. “Historical records also show that a large number of enslaved people were transported from the coast to the farms of Minas Gerais as labor,” Sousa Miranda explains.
Along the way, the traveler will notice that there are cities, districts and other settlements located very close to each other. The reason is in the past. Every three leagues or so there were rustic ranches surrounded by simple outbuildings that allowed travelers to stay overnight, always having a spout of clean water, stone structures for a fire, and trees such as araucaria in the vicinity, whose dry branches they used as firewood. for light burning, necessary to soften the cold in the mountains and grottoes of the Mantiqueira region.
In the mines…
‘I know Ju del Rey
” Mother of God
…and in Rio de Janeiro
» Iguau Velho
Scientists mark and map points of interest
In addition to merchants, many foreign scholars are said to have traveled the route during the 19th century, among them the Frenchman Auguste de Saint-Hilaire (1819), the Englishman Robert Walsh (1829) and Charles James Fox Banbury (1835) and the German Ernst Hasenclewer (1839). “They all left important records along the way. Many of the footprints and some of the original sites of Caminho do Comrcio still exist and are being mapped by a team of researchers working in the Alto Rio Grande region of Minas Gerais,” says Sousa Miranda.
Those who follow the route will have access to cultural and scenic attractions, as well as several places for ecological and cultural tourism. The centuries-old ruins of Iguão Velho, the lush nature of the Serra do Tingo and colonial farms in the Valena and Vassouras regions of Rio de Janeiro await visitors. In Minas, waterfalls and mountain scenery between Rio Preto and Bom Jardim, including the famous Gruta do Funil, colonial architecture, archaeological sites, quality sweets, cheese and porridge produced in the Andrelndia region, farms and churches of centuries, mountains and folk traditions of the Madre de Deus de Minas region, the chapel of São Miguel do Cajuro with artistic paintings by the famous artist José Joaquim da Natividade…
There is something to see in Minas: the ruins of the old Chapel do Rio das Mortes, where N. Chica, who is considered miraculous, was baptized; the impressive three-hundred-year-old architecture of So Joo del-Rei, among other things. The Caminho do Comrcio Passport is provided at the end of the book so that travelers can collect stamps from the municipalities they pass through.
And there is news: in Rio Preto, in Zona da Mata, the traveler’s passport is already initially stamped at the bus station, located on Baro de Santa Clara Square in the city center. Meanwhile, the municipality of Nova Iguão (RJ) is installing eight signal totems on the Estrada Real do Comrcio.
According to the Municipal Secretary for Sports, Recreation and Tourism of Bom Jardim de Minas Ademir Aparecido Rodriguez, the path will be restructured. “We need to meet with all the leaders of the municipalities, Minas and the state of Rio de Janeiro to outline the next steps and organize the route on dirt roads, as well as the training of guides. It is currently not recommended to walk around Caminho do Comércio without a guide,” says the secretary. Once it is structured, Ademir notes, the route will promote tourism and create opportunities for the population.