By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Situated in Minas Gerais’ southern mountains, São Thomé das Letras attracts several tourists for a very peculiar reason: apart from its outstanding nature and historical heritage sites, the city is known as one of the seven energetic points of the Earth, being considered the mystic spot of Brazil.
The esoteric aura starts from São Thomé’s founding myth. According to the locals, the city’s name is a tribute to São Thomé (Saint Tome), whose image was mysteriously found by a slave and his master in a wild cavern, in the eighteenth century.
In the cavern’s walls, the two men also found indecipherable rock inscriptions, which they interpreted as a holly message by São Thomé.
From then on, the city was considered a miraculous venue. In 1785, the Igreja da Matriz (Mother Church) was erected as a homage to the the saint.
For those who want to experience São Thomé das Letras’ mystic side, the Gruta do Carimbado is one of the most intriguing places to visit. According to the local legend, this cavern would lead to Machu Picchu, the millennial monument built by the ancient Inca civilization.
Supposedly, Gruta do Carimbado and Machu Picchu are connected by a parallel dimension’s portal, which made several geographers, historians and media outlets explore the approximately two-hour underground path in the 1990s. So far, no one made the endeavor.
Other must-go place in São Thomé is the Ladeira do Amendoim (Peanut Slope), a way that leads to the above mentioned cavern. The mystery surrounding the spot lies in its intriguing optical illusion: there, one easily gets the impression that parked cars are in movement. A video on Instagram registered this curious effect at Ladeira do Amendoim.
Located in Antônio Rosa Municipal Parque is Casa da Pirâmide, a pyramid-shaped construction made of local rocks, famous for its magnificent sunset and its 360-degree view. Activities like meditation, yoga, alternative therapies and art performances can be found in the venue, specially when the sun goes down. Some say that UFOs are eventually spotted from Casa da Pirâmide.
São Thomé is also a great destination for those looking for history and cultural traditions.
Preserved as a heritage site by Minas Gerais’ Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage, São Thomé’s downtown gathers a variety of restaurants and shops selling adornment handicrafts, precious stones, incenses and even witch hats.
In the historical center, there are restaurant options for all tastes. Typical food from Minas Gerais can be found at Dona Sinhá, with “Vaca Atolada” as the most ordered dish.
For a pizza cooked on the stone, go to Ser Criativo. If you are interested in a different culinary experience, Alcazar Rock Bar is a stone castle that offers diverse dishes and drinks. Also, one must not leave São Thomé without trying its bamboo cachaça, present in most bars’ menu.
Besides its mystic attractions, the ninth highest city of Brazil attracts plenty of people for its stunning nature, specially the waterfalls. Only 3 kilometers far from the city, the Vale das Borboletas (Butterflies Valley) waterfall is a great option for those who have little time or do not have a car; there, it is almost impossible not to be followed by uncountable butterflies. What’s more, the Shangri-lá waterfall is worth the twenty-kilometer trip from the city, specially for the rock paintings one can see along the way.
Travelers from Rio de Janeiro must take BR-116 highway (direction São Paulo until Porto Real), followed by routes RJ-159, LMG-814 (until Liberdade) and BR-267 (until Cruzília). From São Paulo, the access is via BR-381 (until Três Corações) followed by LMG-862. From both cities, there are bus lines operating to Três Corações. A local bus operates from Três Corações to São Thomé everyday, offering several departure options.