Why Ouro Preto ( Black Gold )?
The answer is simple: Gold ! Lots of gold which was discovered merely by chance.
Duarte Lopes commanded an expedition coming from Taubate (Sao Paulo) with the intention of capturing Indians for the slave trade. A mulatto who accompanied the expedition found the little stones and brought it to the attention of Duarte Lopes who, sensing their value, took them to the governor of Rio, Artur de Sá, who was able to prove that it was almost pure gold.
The only information on the place of discovery was a massif of stone, called by the Itacurumim Indians (Ita = stone Curumin = boy - Stone Boy), today Pico do Itacolomi.
Since the discovery of the gold, several expeditions, coming out of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, ventured to find the Pico do Itacolomi. On the morning of the 24th July 1698, the Paulista expedition, lead by Antonio Dias de Oliveira, was camping on the borders of Rio das Velhas when was seen through the fog the mark of the finding. The notice of the abundance of gold spread like wildfire and several expeditions arrived in Tripui Valley.
Villa Rica arises
In 1698, the same year, the gold began to be explored, and around the mines a small village arose which, on 8th July 1711, was elevated to Villa and, in 1823, The Imperial City and capital of the Province of Minas Gerais.
Capital of the Province
On 8th July 1711, Antonio de Albuquerque Coelho de Carvalho established the small village of Villa: Villa Rica of Albuquerque, scarcely after Villa Rica. With the increase in the production of gold, temples and palaces were built, by a decree of 24th February 1823, Villa Rica became the city and capital of Minas Gerais, changing its name to the Imperial City of Ouro Preto at 20th March of the same year.