‘Royal trade route’ in Brazil Colonia revived – Turismo

Joo del-Rei is thus the starting point of the route from Minas Gerais. Mobilize authorities to make the itinerary official and train guides
(photo: Jair Amaral/EM/DA Press – 21-10-14)

The hope brought by the pandemic, finally at a controlled level, with the resumption of tourism and the announcement of new projects to energize the devastated sector in the most restrictive period of the health crisis, is leading to the rediscovery of routes of major cultural and historical importance in Minas. One of these is the Caminho do Comrcio, which is 210 years old and was founded to facilitate the connection between Gerais and Rio de Janeiro and to allow for the supplies to the court in a faster and more economical way.

The arrival of the Portuguese royal family in Brazil, in 1808, led by Dom João VI (1767-1826), caused a significant increase in the population of Rio. Thus, on November 14, 1811, the Royal Board of Commerce, Agriculture, Fabrics and Navigation of the State of Brazil and its Overseas Domains, a member of the Johannine administration, decreed the opening of the Caminho do Comércio. Now, in the 21st century, the route will be restructured and signposted at specific points to guide travelers.

The importance of the old supply route to the Portuguese court and the new cultural route, with its vast possibilities and attractions, caught the attention of historians Marcos Paulo de Souza Miranda – author of several books, such as the recently published “Introduction to the right to heritage of Brazilian culture” – and Rodrigo Magalhes, who has been exploring the route for more than 10 years. At the end of last year, they launched in Bom Jardim de Minas, in the south of the state, when there was a commemoration of the 210th anniversary of its founding of the Caminho do Comrcio, “Historic Studies on the Caminho do Comércio – Commemorative Edition of the route”, a work that can guide those interested in continuing their journey.

According to the authors, the Caminho Novo da Estrada Real, opened at the beginning of the 18th century by Garcia Rodrigues Paes (sertanista, died 1738), was very tall and did not directly connect Rio de Janeiro to the main food production area of ​​Minas Gerais Gerais – South and Campo das Vertentes regions – which became obsolete and inadequate at the beginning of the 19th century.

“The situation led to the creation of the Caminho do Comrcio, which at the time was much shorter and cheaper, because taxes at the border between the captains were lower,” explains Souza Miranda, also a prosecutor and member of the Instituto Histrico e. Geogrfico de Minas Gerais.

food and tools

According to research by Souza Miranda and Magalhes, according to the script, completed in 1816, the drovers of the Comarca do Rio das Mortes, whose headquarters were at So Joo del-Rei, left in Campo das Vertentes, but covered a vast area of ​​​​Minas , leading steers, pigs, bacon, chickens and cheeses. On the way back from Rio de Janeiro they brought salt, oil, wine, vinegar, cod, lamps, tools and glass. “Historical records also show that large numbers of enslaved people were transported from the coast to the farms of Minas Gerais to provide labor,” explains Souza Miranda.

Along the way, the traveler will notice that there are cities, districts and other places very close to each other. The reason is in the past. About every three miles there were rustic farmhouses surrounded by simple structures for travelers to stay overnight, always with a spout for clean water, stone structures for fires and trees, such as the araucaria, nearby, whose dry branches they worked as firewood for firewood. easy combustion, essential to relieve the cold in the mountains and caves of the Mantiqueira region.

There are 280 kilometers from the beginning to the end of the trail. Starting in the town of Nossa Senhora da Piedade do Iguau (current district Nova Iguau-RJ), the Caminho do Comrcio crossed the area today called the Federal Biological Reserve of Tingu, climbed the mountains, passed the port of Ub (currently Andrade Pinto , Vassouras-RJ), on the way to Valena, also in Rio de Janeiro, then through the old mining camps of Rio Preto (Varejas and Funil region), Bom Jardim (by Taboo), Turvo (currently Andrelndia), Madre de Deus, So Miguel do Cajuru, Rio das Mortes Pequeno and finally the Vila de So Joo del-Rei.
path of the com

trade path

In mines…

»I know Joo del-Rei

“Mother of God


“Good garden

of mines

“Rio Preto

…and in Rio de Janeiro


» Iguau Velho

Rustic farmhouses for overnight stays for drovers traveling in entourage were one of the features of the road connecting Minas to Rio (Photo: HISTRIC STUDIES ON THE TRADE/DISCLOSURE PATH)

Scientists mark and mapped attractions

In addition to traders, according to research in the 19th century, many foreign scientists traveled the route, including the Frenchman Auguste de Saint-Hilaire (1819), the Englishman Robert Walsh (1829) and Charles James Fox Bunbury (1835) and the German Ernst Hasenclever (1839 ). “They all left important records along the way. Many traces and some original pieces of the Caminho do Comrcio still exist and are being mapped by a group of researchers working in the Alto Rio Grande region, in Minas Gerais,” says Souza Miranda.

Those who take the route have access to cultural and scenic attractions, in addition to several places for ecological and cultural tourism. Visitors await the ancient ruins of Iguau Velho, the exuberant nature of the Serra do Tingu, and the colonial farms of the Valena and Vassouras region of Rio de Janeiro. In Minas, the waterfalls and mountain landscapes between Rio Preto and Bom Jardim, including the famous Gruta do Funil, the colonial architecture, the archaeological sites, the quality sweets, cheese and cachaa produced in the Andrelndia region, the centuries-old farms and churches, the mountains and folk traditions of the Madre de Deus de Minas region, the chapel of São Miguel do Cajuru, with artistic paintings by the famous painter José Joaquim da Natividade…

There’s more to see in Minas: the ruins of the ancient Capela do Rio das Mortes, where Nh Chica was baptized, is considered miraculous; including the imposing three-hundred-year-old architecture of So Joo del-Rei. At the end, the book brings the Caminho do Comrcio passport so 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 Praça Baro de Santa Clara, in the center. Meanwhile, the municipality of Nova Iguau (RJ) is installing eight signal totems on Estrada Real do Comrcio.


According to the Municipal Secretary of Sport, Leisure and Tourism of Bom Jardim de Minas, Ademir Aparecido Rodrigues, the path will be restructured. “We need to meet with all the managers of the municipalities, Minas and the State of Rio de Janeiro, to map out the next steps and organize the route on the dirt roads, as well as the training of guides. For the time being, it is not recommended to travel the Caminho do Comércio without a guide,” says the secretary. When structured, Ademir emphasizes, the itinerary will boost tourism and create opportunities for the population.

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