‘Royal road’ of trade in Brazil Revitalized colony – Tourism

So Joo del-Rei is the starting point of the route from Minas Gerais. The authorities are mobilizing to formalize the itinerary and train the guides
(photo: Jair Amaral / EM / DA Press – 21/10/14)

The hope brought by the pandemic, finally, at the level of control, with the resumption of tourism and the announcement of new projects to dynamize the devastated sector in the most restrictive period of the health crisis, leads to the rediscovery of paths of great cultural interest and historical importance. in Minas. Among these is the Caminho do Comrcio, which turns 210 years old and was created to facilitate the connection between Gerais and Rio de Janeiro and allow the court to be supplied more quickly and economically.

The arrival of the Portuguese royal family in Brazil in 1808, led by Dom João VI (1767-1826), greatly increased the population of Rio. Thus, on November 14, 1811, the Royal Council for Commerce, Agriculture, Textiles and Navigation of the State of Brazil and its overseas domains, a member of the Johannine administration, decided to open the Caminho do Comércio. Now, in the 21st century, the route will be remodeled and should acquire signage at specific points to guide travelers.

The importance of the old supply route for the Portuguese court and of the new cultural itinerary, with its immense possibilities and attractions, has captured the attention of historians Marcos Paulo de Souza Miranda – author of several books, such as the recent “Introduction to right to the heritage of Brazilian culture “- and Rodrigo Magalhes, who has been studying the route for over 10 years. At the end of last year, in Bom Jardim de Minas, in the south of the state, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 210th anniversary of the creation of the Caminho do Comrcio, have launched “Historical 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 in the early 18th century by Garcia Rodrigues Paes (sertanist, died 1738), was very long and did not directly connect Rio de Janeiro with the main food production area of Minas Gerais Gerais – southern regions and Campo das Vertentes -, 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, since the taxes collected at the border between the captains were lower”, explains Souza Miranda, also a prosecutor and member of the Instituto Histrico and Geogrfico de Minas Gerais. .

food and tools

According to research by Souza Miranda and Magalhes, according to the script, completed in 1816, the herdsmen departed from the Comarca do Rio das Mortes, whose headquarters was in So Joo del-Rei, in Campo das Vertentes, but covered a vast expanse of Minas, lead oxen, pigs, bacon, chickens and cheeses. On the way back from Rio de Janeiro, they brought salt, oil, wine, vinegar, cod, lamps, utensils and glass. “Historical records also show that large numbers of slaves have been transported from the coast to Minas Gerais farms to provide labor,” explains Souza Miranda.

Along the way, the traveler will notice that there are cities, neighborhoods and other locations very close to each other. The reason is in the past. About every three leagues there were rustic ranches surrounded by simple structures that allowed travelers to stay overnight, always having a gush of clean water, stone structures for fires and trees, such as the araucaria, in its vicinity, whose dry branches served from firewood for easy combustion, essential for relieving the cold in the mountains and caves of the Mantiqueira region.

From the beginning to the end of the route, there are 280 kilometers. Starting from the municipality of Nossa Senhora da Piedade do Iguau (current district of Nova Iguau-RJ), the Caminho do Comrcio crossed the area now called the Federal Biological Reserve of Tingu, climbed the mountains, crossed the port of Ub (l ‘current Andrade Pinto, Vassouras-RJ), headed towards Valena, also in Rio de Janeiro, to then pass through the old mining fields of Rio Preto (region of Varejas and Funil), Bom Jardim (passing through Taboo), Turvo ( the current 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

Commercial path

In the mines …

»I know Joo del-Rei

” Mother of God


“Good garden

of the mines

“Rio Preto

… and in Rio de Janeiro


»Iguau Velho

ranch r
Rustic ranches for the overnight herdsmen traveling in entourage were one of the signs of the road that connected Minas to Rio (photo: HISTORICAL STUDIES ON THE COMMERCIAL / DIVIDING ROUTE)

Signs of scientists and mapped attractions

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

Those who will follow the route will have access to cultural and landscape attractions, as well as different places for ecological and cultural tourism. Awaiting visitors are the centuries-old ruins of Iguau Velho, the exuberant nature of the Serra do Tingu and the colonial farms in Rio de Janeiro’s Valena and Vassouras region. In Minas, the waterfalls and mountain landscapes between Rio Preto and Bom Jardim, including the famous Gruta do Funil, colonial architecture, archaeological sites, quality sweets, cheese and cachaa produced in the Andrelndia region, farms and the centuries-old churches, the mountains and popular 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 …

In Minas there is more to see: the ruins of the ancient Capela do Rio das Mortes, where Nh Chica was baptized, considered miraculous; the impressive tricentennial architecture of So Joo del-Rei, among other points. At the end, the book carries the Caminho do Comrcio passport, so that travelers can collect the stamps of the municipalities they pass through.

And there is something new: in Rio Preto, in Zona da Mata, the traveller’s passport has already been initially stamped at the bus station, located in Praça Baro de Santa Clara, in the center. Meanwhile, the Municipality of Nova Iguau (RJ) has installed eight signaling totems on Estrada Real do Comrcio.


According to the municipal secretary for sport, leisure and tourism of Bom Jardim de Minas, Ademir Aparecido Rodrigues, the route will be restructured. “We have to meet all the managers of the municipalities, Minas and the state of Rio de Janeiro, to outline the next steps and organize the itinerary on dirt roads, in addition to training the guides. For the moment it is not advisable to walk the Caminho do Comércio without a guide ”, says the secretary. Once structured, Ademir points out, the itinerary will boost tourism and create opportunities for the population.

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